Using bikes to make life better

World Bicycle Relief

World Bicycle Relief runs an important, effective program called the Bicycles for Education Empowerment Program. The distribution of their iconic Buffalo Bicycles to students, teachers, and school volunteers, allows them to get to school much more quickly, with much more ease.

World Bicycle Relief goes further than simply supplying bikes. The charity encourages the local assembly of bicycles, trains mechanics, and helps strengthen the spare parts supply chain in the areas where it delivers bikes. Such steps effectively create an entirely new bike trade, with all the benefits therein where there had been none before. Stephen Cromwell of World Bicycle Relief explains:

“We envision a world where distance is no longer a barrier to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity. World Bicycle Relief’s aim is to empower rural communities by designing, sourcing and manufacturing bicycles designed to withstand African terrain and conditions, which meet the needs of students, healthcare workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs.”

It costs just $147 to put a bicycle into the hands of a child. But the results are astounding.

Exildah Malambo’s story

As a student at Chippapa Primary School in Zambia, Exildah Malambo received her Buffalo Bicycle in 2013 when she was in sixth grade. Two years later, Exildah and her family are still using the bike, and the effect has been life changing.

“Before I owned a bicycle I walked more than two hours across hilly terrain each day to attend school,” Exildah said. “With a bicycle my commute now takes 30 minutes. I am happy to arrive at school on time. Unlike in the past, I no longer reach school tired and now I am able to concentrate in class when learning.”

Moreover, Exildah’s performance in school has improved significantly. She recently sat for her grade seven exams and markedly surpassed the minimum grade required.

Exildah isn’t the only beneficiary. Since Chippapa Primary School received its Buffalo Bicycles in 2013, attendance rates and overall performance have risen substantially. In just two years the general pass rate has increased by nearly 10 percent.

As for Exildah, she’s hoping her bike will help set her on the road to her dream of becoming a doctor.

Mary’s story

Palabana is a community in rural Zambia. There, distance is a barrier to children reaching their full potential. At the Children’s Village, Barbara looks after some of the most vulnerable children.

“The bicycle has made a huge difference for the students in the village. The distance from school to home to the village is very difficult. A bicycle helps make the distance not so bad,”

Mary Tembo came to Children’s Village in 2004 when she was just seven years old. Mary’s father had passed away and her mother, who is HIV positive, was no longer able to care for her. She had grown up in poverty and arrived malnourished, small, and withdrawn. Her future was uncertain.

Mary turned 18 last June, and Barbara is proud of the progress Mary has made since living at Children’s Village. Barbara believes it is essential to educate all girls like Mary to ensure they have a chance in life. “The girl-child is the mother of the nation,” Barbara says.

Before receiving a bicycle, Mary would wake before sunrise and walk an hour and a half to reach school, five miles away. She would arrive tired and unable to concentrate. Attending class from 7.00am until 4.30pm, Mary would often get home after dark and head straight to bed, too exhausted for homework or visiting friends. Even at weekends, Mary remained tired from the weekly commute and failed to participate in activities.

Identified by her community as a student in need, Mary received a Buffalo Bicycle to help her travel to school. With a bicycle, Mary is now vibrant and full of possibility.

“Since the bicycle we’ve seen Mary’s face brightening…now, she’s doing well in her school exams. She also likes to participate in activities, especially netball.”


To learn more about World Bicycle Relief visit