Cycloville - Nairobi, Kenya

News released on: 
Mar 3rd, 2015

Bikes Not Bombs International Programs Director, David, is in East Africa to visit existing and potential partners, in addition to expanding Bikes Not Bombs' connections in the region.

Just over 6 months ago, Bikes Not Bombs received a partnership request via a Facebook message from a group called Cycloville, based in Nairobi, Kenya. In the message, Cycloville detailed the challenges and potential of the bicycle industry in Kenya:

“Our cycling industry in Kenya has huge potential and its growth can greatly contribute in reduction of poverty … by increasing employment and productivity of people ... especially the youth. However, as entrepreneurs and businesses in this industry, we face a number of barriers to the … development of our businesses, the main one being difficulty in obtaining bicycles, spares and maintenance facilities such as tools regularly. It is virtually impossible to make our vision a reality without a reliable supply chain.” - Fredrick Odero, Cycloville

In further correspondence, Cycloville went on to describe their vision and how it is reflected in their name “Cycloville,” which means “cycling village”. The cycling village that Cycloville envisions is a metaphor for the cycling community of Nairobi - it is a place where everyone can be involved in cycling and where people cooperate and support each other to build the cycling industry and strengthen the cycling community. My visit to Cycloville this past week in Nairobi has confirmed BNB’s initial impressions of Cycloville - that they have the power and potential to achieve this vision and transform cycling in Kenya.

The thing about Cycloville is that they are not just one organization, they are a network of more than 10 bike shops that work together and support each other to succeed in their businesses while building the broader cycling community, and this network is growing. Cycloville believes that cycling is for everyone, especially young people and low-income earners. So it is part of Cycloville’s mission to engage young people in cycling, to train young people from low-income backgrounds in mechanics and bicycle entrepreneurship, and to stabilize the supply chain of bicycles, parts and tools into Nairobi to make bicycles more affordable and accessible. Through all of these goals and strategies, Cycloville is working toward a broader and bolder vision, to build the critical mass of cyclists and base of support for large-scale policy and infrastructure change in Kenya.

Cycloville is not the only group that holds this vision. They are representing the needs and goals of their constituents - the young cyclists, the bike shop owners, the mechanics, the bike-dependent people, and the bike racing community. Cycloville is reflecting the shared vision of this grassroots cycling community, and is very well positioned with the skills and relationships to bring this entire community together.