Bicycles for Humanity – Can You Help?

Bicycles for Humanity (B4H), the altruistic grassroots organization that empowers people to improve their quality of life through donated bicycles, recently announced an impressive list of accomplishments for 2010 along with new initiatives for the coming year.

B4H International ( reports that counting all of its chapters combined a total of 5,215 donated and new bicycles along with spare parts and tools were successfully shipped to various African communities in 2010. To date, since B4H’s inception in 2005, over 14,000 bicycles have been shipped to disadvantaged recipients abroad.

To help guide the organization into the future, this year also saw the appointment of Dan Austin as Executive Director of B4H International.  Austin may be better known as the founder and director of the award-winning adventure travel company Austin-Lehman Adventures (ALA) ( Based in Billings, Montana, Austin initially established Montana’s first B4H chapter in his hometown before agreeing to assist in the overall management of the organization.

Austin will share responsibilities with a Board of Directors that includes; Seb Oran (Ottawa Chapter), Josh Pace (Denver), Matt McCullough (Australia) and Michael Linke (of BEN Namibia). In time, others will be invited to contribute their energy and talents.

“African development depends on African people being given the opportunities and tools that they then can use to make their own lives better,” explains Austin. “B4H’s development philosophy will always be, ‘give a hand-up, not a hand-out’. We are poised with things falling in place for 2011, to deliver thousands of additional bicycles, creating new jobs, and providing mobility and empowerment in dozens of African communities throughout Namibia, Zambia, Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.”

An early priority for 2011 will be placed on achieving official 501c3 Status for the organization. “The application has been filed. Once we have our nonprofit status in hand we will be able to supercharge our overall fund raising efforts,” said Austin.

In an effort to kick-start contributions, Austin just announced that for the 2011 season, Austin-Lehman Adventures will donate $25 per guest booked on any ALA bicycle adventure to B4H International.

Over the course of the past year, B4H’s rapid growth together with another grassroots organization, BEN Namibia led to the development of the Bicycle Empowerment Center (BEC) program, a bicycle distribution model that has opened new avenues for serving people of sub-Saharan Africa and for the economic empowerment of disadvantaged communities.

A BEC is simply a 12m (40 ft) modified shipping container that can accommodate up to 350 second-hand bicycles, tools, spare parts, paint, roofing materials, and workbenches. It is then delivered to a grassroots organization and converted into a community-based bicycle shop.

A brochure was recently created to help tell the story and hopefully generate corporate contributions. See:×11.pdf

Some additional 2010 Bicycles for Humanity accomplishments that were reported:

-In Namibia, where the Bicycle Empowerment Centre (BEC) program evolved, a total of 25 BECs have now been delivered through BEN Namibia.

-In November, volunteers with Bicycles for Humanity-Huron-Perth (Canada) Chapter packed their first cargo container bound for Namibia with 410 bikes along with spare parts. Organizer Mark Nonkes said a second container with 350 bikes will be shipped in the next few weeks.

-In Zambia a pilot BEC has been established through a partnership between Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne, BEN Namibia and the local organization, Zambikes.

– B4H Ottawa recently shipped a container of bikes to Africycle in Malawi to support their existing bicycle shop.

-In South Africa, B4H Portland has delivered a shipment to benefit school children in partnership with BEN Cape Town, and on November 26th, a container of 450+ bikes arrived in Ndumo courtesy of B4H Seattle.

About Bicycles for Humanity
Founded in 2005, Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) began as a movement uniting like-minded people in cities around the world with the goal of providing development and mobility for African communities. The movement encompasses a growing number of B4H Chapters in North America, Australia and Europe, each collecting used bicycles and raising funds to cover their shipment to Africa. The Chapters share resources such as web space, professional expertise and fundraising materials coordinated by B4H International, but each maintains its own autonomy and local community spirit. Typically, Chapters grow out of existing community networks such as schools, sports clubs, business networks and service clubs. Members and supporters are people from all walks of life; from school children to retirees, investment bankers to bike mechanics. What brings it all together across various communities and different countries is the common goal of empowering people in Africa. In five years, 26 chapters have been established, engaging thousands of volunteers from three continents. To date, over 14,000 bicycles have been successfully shipped to African communities.

Currently there is no B4H chapter in the UK. If you want to help get one started contact us at the Eco-Echo, or B4H directly. If you have a bike, tools or spares you would like to donate, please send them to The Green Organisation, and we will forward them.