New partnership with Children in the Wilderness

With our first donation of 24 bikes and a slew of product from our generous sponsors, we're super excited about our new partnership with Children in the Wilderness (CITW).

CITW is a non-profit organization that facilitates sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of rural children in Africa.  Insight, care and commitment are required to conserve Africa's pristine wilderness and wildlife areas.  To ensure that these places continue to exist - in this generation and those to come - we need the rural children of Africa to understand the importance of conservation and its relevance in their lives.  Hence, the Children in the Wilderness program:  and environmental and life skills education program for children, focusing on the next generation of decision-makers; inspiring them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of their wilderness and wildlife in the future.

CITW's Eco-Club program forms part of the normal school curriculum and uses interactive sessions to involve children in projects that benefit both the community and the environment.  This donation will enable CITW to run competitions in its Eco-Clubs, with winners each receiving a bike, a helmet and riding gear.  These bikes are a huge reward for child participants who demonstrate a commitment to conservation and community service.

Huge thanks to our industry partners who made this possible:  Specialized, Raleigh, Giant, Ivar, Bike and Roll, and of course our generous customers right here in NorCal!

http://www.childreninthewilderness.com/newnews/mikes-bikes-donation-citw-botswana.html



"Where did my donated bike go?" To the UCI Worlds, of course!

In what may be the best example yet of used bikes getting a second life in Africa, this beautiful old Trek 930 was donated by one of our customers here in NorCal (was it you?), and later turned up at the 2013 UCI World MTB Championships in South Africa, ridden by Lesotho rider Thuso Makatise.  (No joke!)  For Thuso, this was a lifetime dream come true! THANK YOU to whoever donated this bike - you've changed a life in a way you probably didn't intend.

Thuso Makatise representing Lesotho at the 2013 UCI World MTB Championships in South Africa, with a bike donated through the Mike's Bikes Africa Bike Drive.

Thuso Makatise representing Lesotho at the 2013 UCI World MTB Championships in South Africa, with a bike donated through the Mike's Bikes Africa Bike Drive.

First 5 bikes arrive at Our Fertile Ground in South Africa

Our friends at Our Fertile Ground in Cape Town can start training for the upcoming Cape Argus ride, where they'll be raising funds for their great project, centered around a youth program for kids with HIV and AIDS.  The kids who want to do the ride have no bikes, so camp founder Robert Shea requested 5 bikes from our Foundation.  Naturally, we obliged, and the first 5 bikes just arrived in Cape Town and have been assembled and tuned.  Training can now begin for the Argus, which is fast approaching on March 10.

The response and support from the other kids in the program has been so overwhelming that Robert quickly requested another bikes, which we now have en route from our most recent container of donated bikes in Botswana.

Robert and his family have such an amazing and selfless program at Our Fertile Ground, and we're honored to be a part of it.

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PRESS RELEASE: Village Bicycle Project and the Mike's Bikes Foundation partner to bring bikes to Sierra Leone.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

A Big Boost for Bicycles in Africa

Village Bicycle Project and the Mike's Bikes Foundation partner to bring bikes to Sierra Leone.

SAN RAFAEL, California (November 23, 2010) - The Mike's Bikes Foundation and Village Bicycle Project have partnered to initiate a project in 2011 to distribute bicycles throughout the West African country of Sierra Leone. This partnership ushers in a new era of involvement in Africa for Mike’s Bikes, and enables both organizations to extend their reach into new areas and serve more people.

Since 2007, Ken Martin and Matt Adams, co-owners of Mike’s Bikes, America’s largest locally-owned bike shop, have used their expertise in bicycle retailing to increase access to bicycles in Africa. Adams explains, “We believe that by getting people on bikes, it improves their lives. Bicycles have an even greater positive impact on society in Africa than they do in California, because people's mobility is so much more constrained there. In parts of Africa, a bicycle can make the difference between living in abject poverty versus receiving healthcare, getting an education, or realizing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.” In 2007, the pair traveled to Ghana and used their retail knowledge to instruct mechanics on proper bike assembly and train independent bike shop owners about the importance of the customer service experience to creating financially sustainable shops. They founded the Mike's Bikes Foundation in 2008 to continue the work to increase access to bicycles in Africa.

The Foundation has established three locally owned and operated “Mike’s Bikes Sister Shops” since that time. In 2008, Jonmol Bicycle Services was established in Botswana, MakVeto was opened in rural Namibia in 2009, and MK Cycles opened Zimbabwe this past October. All of these shops received seed investment in the form of hundreds of bicycles donated by Mike's Bikes customers, as well as parts, supplies and a combination of micro-loans and direct cash assistance from the Mike’s Bikes Foundation.

The vision for the new Sierra Leone collaboration includes Mike's Bikes sponsoring, training and mentoring the owner of an existing shop in the capitol of Freetown in the art of running a full-service bicycle shop. Topics will include general business practices such as accounting, sourcing, marketing and the customer experience, as well as specific mechanical instruction to achieve high quality bicycle repair. This shop will then serve as a processing hub for all the bicycles and parts that Village Bicycle Project needs for its many initiatives out in the countryside, where VBP is the proven expert in small-scale rural distribution. In this way, each non-profit can focus on their core capacity, and use their expertise to enhance the work of the partner.

“We are very excited about our partnership with the Village Bicycle Project, “ says Ken Martin. “They have been very successful at getting bikes into the hands of ordinary Africans in remote rural villages. By collaborating with them in Sierra Leone to build a solid distribution center combined with a Mike's Bikes Sister Shop, we will all be better able to accomplish our philanthropic goals.”

 

Contact:

Ken Martin, Founder & CEO

Mike's Bikes

ken.martin@mikesbikes.com

 

Mike's Bikes: is the largest independently operated bicycle shop in the US, with eight Northern California locations. The company formed The Mike's Bikes Foundation in 2007 to leverage their retail experience and bicycle expertise to help build the bike culture and improve everyday life in Africa. The Foundation’s goal is to jumpstart self-sustaining local businesses and create supply chains of new and used bikes to those parts of Africa that can benefit most from the personal mobility that only a bike can provide. More information can be found at MikesBikesAfrica.com

Village Bicycle Project was founded in 1999 to increase bicycle use in Africa by sending donated bikes to Africa, teaching bike maintenance, supporting mechanics with tools and spare parts and address the special needs of African women and girls. To date they have sent over 100 containers to Africa to support their programs. More information can be found at VillageBicycleProject.org

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PRESS RELEASE: A Nightclub becomes a Bike Shop, Cycling comes to Zimbabwe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

A Nightclub becomes a Bike Shop

Cycling comes to Zimbabwe

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (October 4, 2010) – Located in a former nightclub, Mike's Bikes' third sister shop in Africa is set to open October 20. Milton Nyamadzawo, MK Cycles owner, stated “We're...setting up a thriving shop in the heart of downtown Bulawayo.”

The MK crew has been busy converting the space for use as a bike shop for several weeks: scraping and painting the interiors and exteriors and building out bike shelves. Once stacked with liquor bottles, the bar will soon be stacked with parts and accessories; it is being converted for use as the service department. With the arrival in early September of a container of 450 bicycles donated by Mike's Bikes customers in California, parts and tools from Mike's and accessories from Specialized, Mr. Nyamadzawo has had his hands full getting the store ready, “It's such a challenge and yet such a thrill also....the past few days have been a blur.”

Bicycles are currently fairly uncommon in Zimbabwe. Recently, when a worker from the shop went for a test ride on one of the shop bikes, he was stopped by a police officer and asked for his “cycling license” because the sight of people on bikes is that unusual. By investing seed funding and donating the initial inventory to MK Cycles in Zimbabwe, The Mike's Bikes Foundation aims to create a self-sufficient bicycle shop where none has existed before. This model has already been proved successful in Botswana with the Jonmol Bicycle Service (established 2008) and in rural Namibia at MakVeto Cycles (established 2009).

Bicycles, by virtue of being inexpensive to operate and maintain, are ideally suited to address many of the problems facing people in Southern Africa. “By enabling people to buy bikes and get them professionally maintained at a fair price, we are dramatically improving the quality of their lives. Students can get to school, patients can get to the doctor, and merchants can get their wares to their customers with greater ease and zero pollution. The simple introduction of a bicycle can make dramatic improvements in people's lives.” Matt Adams, Co-owner of Mike's Bikes explained the motivations behind the Foundation's projects.

“Matt and I will be going to Bulawayo in the next few weeks to help Milton finish the store and open,” said Ken Martin, Mike's Bikes co-owner. “We're very excited to be opening our third sister store in Africa, and to have the opportunity to use our 34 years of combined experience in the bicycle industry to make a real difference in people's lives.”

Contact:

Ken Martin, Co-owner Mike's Bikes

ken.martin@mikesbikes.com

(415) 454 - 6921 x115

Mike's Bikes is the largest independently operated bicycle shop in the US, with eight Northern California locations. Since 2007, Mike's has leveraged their expertise with bicycles to improve life in Africa. Toward the goals of improving people's lives through increasing their access to health care, education and market opportunities for goods and services The Mike's Bikes Foundation was formed in 2008.

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San Rafael Patch gives a shout to our Africa Sister Shop projects

Many thanks to the San Rafael Patch, a great local news website, for doing this terrific blurb about our Sister Shop projects in Africa.

It's a reminder that, while we're doing what we can to bring the life-changing power of the bicycle to the people of developing countries, our efforts are home-grown and their success would not be possible without the generosity of our loyal local customers.