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After 50 years of civil war, Colombia is now building a new future – but significant challenges remain. Years of conflict have displaced children and families from rural areas and increased social and gender inequality. Nearly nine million people in rural Colombia have insufficient infrastructure, underfunded public transportation options, and a lack of resources to purchase individual transportation. That’s why World Bicycle Relief has just launched its flagship education program in the South American country, with the goal of distributing 20,000 bicycles by 2022 to empower students in rural communities, and in doing so, change the future for countless families in the region. 

Only 17% of rural students in Colombia attend secondary school and COVID-19 has only increased the urgent need for safe and reliable transportation. In conjunction with local Bicycle Supervisory Committees made up of local community members, students are selected to participate based on distance traveled, dropped attendance, and those who have a minimum of two years of school remaining, with a focus on girls.

WBR has actually had a presence in Colombia since 2014, developing an alliance with local partners to pilot their Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP). During that time, they’ve distributed more than 10,000 Buffalo Bicycles, already generating a significant impact by decreasing travel time to school by 45% and cutting class absences by 31%. 

The project also includes a bicycle assembly facility in the northern city of Baranquilla, which employs local assemblers to build and distribute WBR’s Buffalo Bicycles to students, health workers and entrepreneurs.

How your donations help 

The World Bank estimates that more than one billion people living in rural areas globally lack access to all-season roads and transportation options. Everyday tasks can quickly become a struggle against time and fatigue.

A high-quality bicycle in areas with limited or costly transportation options is a powerful, cross-cutting intervention that immediately improves livelihoods and educational and healthcare outcomes. A bicycle connects people to markets, schools, and healthcare and allows individuals and communities to accomplish much more in a single day.

World Bicycle Relief delivers specially designed, locally assembled, rugged bicycles for people in need. They’ve developed an efficient, innovative, and scalable model to empower students, health workers, and entrepreneurs in rural developing regions with life-changing mobility.

To date, the inGamba community has raised almost $1.3 million for WBR’s programs globally. A Buffalo Bike costs just $147 – a tiny sum when you think about how life changing that bicycle will be for a student or healthcare worker in need. If you’d like to donate, you can do so on our fundraising page, or find out more about WBR’s brilliant work by visiting their site

Colin O'Brien

Colin is an author and journalist from Ireland. He first met inGamba's founder João Correia back in 2013. João handed him a bidon full of Chianti Classico and took him to a three-course lunch. They've been friends ever since.