We’re taking Ride: Africa to Ghana for the first time because we have new partners in the Volta region who take an innovative approach supporting their community.
Our Partner in Ghana
Shape Lives Foundation, lead by Alexander Kedje, aim to help individuals and communities to break away from poverty. They run projects relating to education, environment, health and poverty reduction.
They have an innovative approach to sustainability, having operated a number of programmes that offer benefit to the community but not simply by giving handouts. One of those projects is their bike club.
The Bike Club
Shape Lives knows that a bike can change a life, particularly the life of someone living in poverty. A bike provides an opportunity to save time and energy, earn an income and access education and healthcare, especially to those living in rural areas.
The bike club provides the community in Hohoe with the opportunity to access, then maintain, quality bicycles. Alex and his team import bikes which they sell, usually on hire purchase, to members of their community. Maintenence on the bikes is free for all customers as part of the service.
Selling the bikes ensures the programme is covering its own costs, meaning that more people can benefit in future. Selling also attibutes a value to the bikes by the beneficiaries, who are then more likely to take good care of them.
I visited Ghana earlier this year to meet the Shape Lives team and I met a number of the beneficiaries from the programme.
Kudroha is 16 years old and goes to a good school 60km away from his home. His family don’t have a car so before he had this bike, he had to save money to pay for a car or bus to get him there on time.
“I bought my bike from here because of how long a journey I was going. I can take it to many places.”
Kudroha is committed to getting the best education he can, but if he didn’t have the money for his fare, he couldn’t get to school. Before Shape Lives, he had another bike but it broke and he couldn’t afford repairs or to buy another.
He heard about the Shape Lives programme through a local radio station and his parents were able to buy the bike for him by paying in instalments. Kudroha is now saving for his future with the money he was spending on vehicles.
Kudroha still has a long commute to school each day; he gets up at 5am every day to cycle for two hours to get to school for class at 8am. But he doesn't mind:
Through Ride: Africa, Ghana, we’re pleased to be able to donate all of the bikes being used for the trip. These bikes will total nearly £30,000, which Shape lives will use to change more lives like Kodroha’s.
For anyone interested in hearing more about the impact a bike can have on those living in extreme poverty, watch this section of Hans Rosling’s fantastic documentary ‘Overpopulated’ (or start from the beginning!).