Cycloville

Nairobi, Kenya

Photo credit: David Branigan

Photo credit: David Branigan

Women's Learn to Ride Participants pose with Cycloville staff

Photo credit: David Branigan

Cycloville is a network of cyclists and bicycle shops in Nairobi, Kenya that is working to grow the bicycle industry of Kenya, to create employment for young people, to engage more women in cycling and to build the critical mass of cyclists to organize for policy and infrastructure change.

Cycloville stands for “cycling village”, which essentially reflects how the bicycle community in Nairobi functions. Within the “cycling village,” the bicycle shop owners, competitive racers, youth, mechanics and activists all communicate and work together to support each other’s growth and success, and that of the broader bicycle community. At the center of this community, Cycloville is uniquely positioned to bring all the sectors of the bicycle community together to organize for larger-scale change.

Cycloville runs a number of programs that work toward the common goal of transforming Kenya into a cycling nation. Cycloville uses market forces and values of social justice and equity to drive the momentum of their work, and it’s working.

One of Cycloville’s fundamental aims is to grow and stabilize the supply chain of bicycles into Kenya, to ensure that the local shops have a sufficient supply of bicycles, that the sales price of bicycles stays affordable for working class people, and that the growth of new bicycle enterprises has a sufficient supply to keep growing. In fact, the used bicycle market is a growth industry in Kenya - the number of new bike shops in recent years has more than doubled, as has the demand.

Cycloville aims to utilize this growth in the industry to create opportunity and employment for the urban poor youth from the slums. Cycloville is partnering with Mathare Community Education and Development Organization (MCEDO) to identify young people from Mathare slum to be trained by Cycloville. These youth will then have access to apprenticeship positions and employment in one of the Nairobi bike shops within the Cycloville network, as well as entrepreneurship training to develop their own small bicycle businesses. As the industry grows, it will offer tremendous economic development opportunities for youth from the slums.

With BNB support, in September 2016 Cycloville launched the Women's Bike Programme (WBP) to increase the number of women cyclists in Nairobi, empower women as leaders of the bicycle movement and industry in Kenya, and to make bikes more accessible for women. The program runs a Learn to Ride program for primarily low-income women in Mathare, where the Bicycle Enterprise Development Programme Workshop is located, and in only 3 months in 2016 just under 100 women graduated from the program. Additionally, the WBP provides micro-grants for women cyclists to organize bike events in order to engage more women in cycling, and to increase the organizers' leadership capacity. Cycloville is committed to continuing the mission of the Women's Bike Programme into the future, and is quickly establishing themselves as leaders of gender equity in biking in East Africa.

In addition to growing the bicycle industry, increasing women's involvement and leadership in cycling and providing youth employment, Cycloville is working to grow the community of cyclists and their engagement in the broader cycling movement. Cycloville organizes multiple cycling events throughout the year to bring the community together to race and raise funds for social programs in Mathare slum. Cycloville also partners with the Department of Education to run cycling programming in the public schools to engage young people in cycling at a young age. Ultimately, Cycloville has plans to develop a democratic union of cyclists and bike shops, to ensure that the grassroots base is in control of the resources they depend on.

With this integrated growth of the bicycle industry and the bicycle community within the framework of social justice and equity, the opportunities for social impact are immense.

 

Cycloville by David Branigan