We chat to Kona about the AfricaBike project, new volunteer opportunities arising from it, and the future of Kona BasicNeeds.
Three years ago Kona were approached by Bicycling Magazine in the USA and asked, can you make a robust, rugged, low maintenance bike to be used by health care workers fighting HIV and Aids in Africa? Yes was the reply, and with it the Kona AfricaBike was born.
With a few AfricBike donations around Africa and promotion through Bicycling Magazine, the attention of the general public was captured. People were asking ‘how can we be involved?’ and ‘how can we buy a Kona AfricaBike?’
So popular did they prove to be, Kona started to sell them on a not for profit basis for every 2 sold, another was donated. An excellent, tough and easy to use commuter bike, sales and donations have allowed over 3,000 bicycles to be donated with 540 bikes to be donated to 3 projects in Africa this year – Tingathe Baylor Community Outreach Program in Malawi , Foundation Rwanda and HopeFirst Foundation in Gambia.
With the bike donations comes the brilliant opportunity for up to 15 participants to attend the build and handover of the bicycles. Volunteers arrive and visit the project, unload the bikes as they arrive, get instructed on how to build them, and then typically spend 2 days building them with the local project. With handover complete, then of course is the chance to stay on and explore the area properly.
Following the success of the Kona AfricaBike program, Kona have broadened their vision and set up the Basic Needs humanitarian organisation which aims to help provide transport, shelter, food and water to those with difficulty in attaining them.
We were excited to speak to Russell and hear about their plans to reach out to other parts of the world with further bike donations and volunteer travel opportunities, providing support for local change-making organisations and community projects. Pepy Ride in Cambodia were an organisation that immediately came to mind.
We are delighted to be working with Kona as they embark on this adventure. Watch this space for further developments
You can find out more here: www.konabasicneeds.org
If you are interested in volunteering to attend the upcoming AfricaBike donations in Malawi, Rwanda or Gambia later this year, then contact Russell: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any suggestions or recommendations of local humanitarian organisations who might benefit from a partnership with Kona Basic Needs, then do let it be known.
This is not the only exciting way bikes can contribute to community development and sustainable tourism in the developing world. Click here to read about how bamboo bikes can support positive change.