Getting bikes to rural children across the nation, BEN Bikes is paving a new path to hope for young learners to get to school an easier way.
Helping over 400 more rural children get to school each day, the Bicycle Empowerment Network (or BEN Bikes) is adding pedal power where it’s needed most. For many school learners in far-flung areas facing long walks to school, riding a bike can help preserve energy and reduce absenteeism rates. And by reducing transport difficulties in the long term, education prospects are improved for these bright young minds.
With its goal of promoting and improving sustainable social and economic empowerment through access to bicycles, Ben Bikes is putting people on the path to hope. For a donation of R3 000 or US$200, rural children receive a bike to get to school through a two-year study-to-own agreement. Bike usage is monitored weekly and repairs are done by appointed bicycle mechanics to keep them on the road.
BEN’s overall objective is to promote sustainable social and economic empowerment through bicycles. By ensuring a reliable supply of donated and affordable bicycles to disadvantaged communities and institutions, BEN works to secure an ongoing stream of donated bikes from its donor partners. Together with Bicycling Empowerment Centres (BECs) and Community Partners — managed by community-based entrepreneurs — BEN is able to pass bikes on for distribution to where it’s needed most in communities.
BEN also forms part of a consortium (along with Pedal Power Association and Qubeka) to supply bicycles to communities in the Western Cape over a three-year period. As part of the province’s sustainable transport programme (PSTP), the programme has seen just over 400 bicycles distributed to young learners.
One such NPO — Living Hope in Masiphumelele —’recently distributed five bicycles to its local community, while an NPO in Langa — Just Grace — handed out a further six.
Ben Bikes also joined forces with the Pedal Power Association (PPA) to launch the “Bike4All” programme — with a simple, strong vision to put more people on bikes. Shortly after, Qhubeka joined the initiative, matching the contribution from PPA and BEN with Qhubeka bicycles. The three organisations are united in their efforts to promote bicycle use in South Africa, working together to increase their impact and reach. Over the past year, 1475 utility bicycles have also been distributed to schools, clubs, charities, farm workers, and more. Along with their bikes, younger riders also receive a helmet and high-vis bib, while the COOL KID ON A BIKE programme is presented to groups to teach them safe cycling principles before handover.
With a clear vision to put more people safely on bikes on the road, BEN continues to engage with decision makers and stakeholders to ensure that Non-Motorised (NMT) Transport is properly integrated into transport planning.