In November, we returned from Ride Africa, leaving 65 top quality bikes in Ghana with Shape Lives Foundation. But where are those bikes now, and what's going to happen to them next? We caught up with Alex to find out...

Thanks to the efforts of our Ride Africa riders and their supporters, Alex from Shape Lives Foundation has been very busy over last few months! He's been setting up the new school agriculture project and scouting out opportunities to use our riders' generous gifts of 65 bikes, which are some of the most high-spec bikes in the area!

So what's the plan with the bikes? Well, already they are being regularly used by Shape Lives' Cycling and Fitness Club, a new club that has been formed to promote cycling to community members and encourage good health and fitness. Parents and children pay a small fee to join the club and cycle together at weekends and holidays.


 

Cycle tourism

But there are more plans afoot to raise substantial income for the foundation from the bikes. Alex and the team believe that there is a great opportunity to improve cycling tourism in the region by renting the bikes to tourists. This will boost tourism in the area as tourists will be able to ride to reach a whole range of different destinations. Shape Lives are in the process of applying for their licence to act as a cycle tour operator - which in Ghana takes a long time - but in the meantime Alex has been making contact with local hotels, companies and agencies to promote the bike rental and putting together a business plan including finding the right staff member to run the cycling activity.

 

An irish ride

There's already a plan for Brian and some of the other Irish support team to head back out to Ghana to take an Irish charity out on a similar ride - and they'll be hiring the bikes from Alex. The ride might not have visited that part of Ghana - or even Ghana at all - if access to high quality mountain bikes were available. It's a perfect example of how the bikes can stimulate demand.

 

The long term plan

So, by converting the bikes into an income stream, the impact for the community can last much longer. These bikes can form the foundation for encouraging an influx of tourism to an area of Ghana that doesn't get visited much. That has ripple effect benefits for the community, bringing spending into the region which if it is done well will be a huge boost to a poor rural community. There's also the income generated directly from the bike hire which will allow Alex and his team to upcycle and maintain more bikes for the subsidised bike rental scheme. 44 upcycled bikes have been made available to school children and farmers in the Santrokofi community since January.

Alex and the team at Shape Lives would like to send their personal thanks to our riders, and everyone who sponsored them. With your support, they hope to impact the lives of children in the long term, by reducing poverty and improving the standard of living in the project communities and beyond.