World Bicycle Relief
- I thought I'd make a $10 per month donation to this program.
Any recommendations? Thank you, -Mark Hoagy
Lead Sponsers -- Sram & Trek
World Bicycle Relief on NBC 5 News Chicago
February 24, 2009 — World Bicycle Relief coverage
by NBC 5 news Chicago Feb. 23, 2009
World Bicycle Relief on WGN News Chicago
April 24, 2009 — World Bicycle Relief coverage by
WGN news Chicago April 20th, 2009
World Bicycle Relief on The Today Show
WorldBicycleRelief — May 06, 2009
The Power of Bicycles
April 18, 2007 — World Bicycle Relief is partnering with USAID and
World Vision to bring healthcare and education to people living with
HIV/AIDS, and to orphans and vulnerable children. We are providing
26,000 bicycles, which will enable healthcare workers to expand their
geographic scope, improve the quality of their care, and ultimately
reach the 520,000 individuals most in need.
Can This Bicycle Save Lives In Africa?
Stephane Fitch, 05.10.10, 12:00 AM ET
Frederick K.W. Day recalls his first long car ride in Zambia in 2006.
"We're looking out the window and we keep seeing bike carcasses piled up
alongside the road," he says. "It was like something out of The Andromeda
Of course he would notice the bikes. In 1987, as a restless 23-year-old
college dropout, Day teamed up with his older brother Stanley, an M.B.A.,
to found bicycle-component maker Sram. With Stan running the business and
F.K. (as he's known) pushing innovations in gear-shifting and brakes, the
two bicycle enthusiasts helped revolutionize cycling, with Lance Armstrong,
among others, using their components. Today privately held Sram,
headquartered in Chicago, is the second-largest maker of bicycle components
in the world, with an expected $500 million in sales this year.
Having proved his worth in high-end two-wheelers, F.K. is now peddling
ideas about how bicycles can promote Third World development. World Bank
types, he complains, tend to favor (and fund) paved roads and train tracks.
But Day believes millions of desperately poor people, trapped by lousy
infrastructure, can achieve a better life through bicycles--albeit not the
kind of bicycles that Sram and its customers make.
In Pictures: Building A Better Bicycle--For Africa
Through his World Bicycle Relief charity the ponytailed entrepreneur hopes
to put millions of sub-Saharan Africans aboard special heavy-duty bikes
designed to withstand the continent's rugged roads while carrying 200 pounds
of cargo--enough for a weaver to bring his rugs, or a farmer to tote his
produce, to market. Moreover, he aims to promote a self-sustaining bicycle
economy with regional operations assembling the bikes and area mechanics
trained to repair them.
Day began shaping this vision after the devastating December 2004 tsunami.
With his wife, he went to Sri Lanka to see how he might help and
considered--then quickly rejected--the conventional approach of shipping
containers full of used bikes donated by Americans to the devastated areas.
Even if they arrived in good shape, he realized, there would be such a
multitude of different brands and styles that mechanics wouldn't have the
parts to keep them operating.
Instead, working with a manufacturer there, Day designed, produced and
distributed 24,450 heavy-duty examples. That helped a lot of people move
quickly through the countryside. The cost--which Day and his wife, Leah,
raised mostly in donations of $100,000 or less from Sram customers like
Trek Bicycle, in Waterloo, Wis.--was under $100 per bike.
Day was drawn to Zambia in 2006 by Bruce Wilkinson, who heads a World Vision
project that aims to teach villagers to care for peers with HIV/AIDS. To get
his AIDS-care teachers out to the thousands of tiny, far-flung villages that
dot the Zambian countryside, Wilkinson had bought 1,000 bicycles. But they
were so poorly made, most were now roadside scrap. After Wilkinson heard
about Day from World Vision workers in Sri Lanka, he invited him on a tour
of the bicycle-strewn Zambian landscape. Day got to work and designed a new
Gone are the 18-gauge steel frame tubes of the typical cheap Zambian bike
(known in the region as Chinese bikes, Flying Pigeons or black mambas);
they've been replaced by larger-diameter tubes with thicker, 16-gauge walls.
The latter tubes weigh only a little more but are far stronger. Gone too are
loose ball bearings in the steering column. In their place: high-grade ball
bearings in a tiny circular cage. That makes the bearings easier to service
and keeps them evenly spaced better. That, in turn, helps the bike's
steering column withstand the shocks of African potholes without breaking or
being knocked out of alignment. The bike's rack is made of tubular steel
instead of flat pressed steel.
Key parts are made to Day's specifications in India, Taiwan, the Czech
Republic and China by companies that also produce components for the less
sturdy Third World models. All bicycle assembly takes place in Zambia. Day's
charity pays roughly $100 for each bike, compared with the $80 going price
for those you'd find elsewhere in the country.
World Bicycle Relief gives away the Day-designed bikes by the truckload to
students and AIDS workers. But his supplier in Lusaka, Zambia's capital, has
begun shipping them to retailers, where they go for a hefty $140 and sell to
farmers, builders, craftsmen and others who need reliable wheels to earn a
living. It's a big investment for the average buyer. "But our bikes don't
suck," Day says.
So far Day has put 30,000 bikes into circulation in Zambia. He has also
established a network of mechanics, trained by World Bicycle Relief
personnel. (The students and health care workers who receive a free bike get
a first service appointment gratis, then pay for future maintenance
"The maintenance network is self-sustaining at this point," Day says,
meaning that the mechanics can make enough money selling services and parts
to buy additional components and clear a modest profit. Eventually, Day is
convinced, the manufacturer he helped set up in Zambia will become
profitable even without new orders from his charity, just as the one in Sri
Lanka did. While Day's charity no longer operates in Sri Lanka, its former
manufacturing partner there now profitably sells the bike model Day
designed--it even exports it to bike-mad markets in Northern Europe starved
for cheap, high-quality single-speed bikes.
"You can have all the goodwill in the world," Day observes, "but if what
you're doing isn't driven by the invisible hand of Adam Smith, you're doomed
These days Day has cut back on his work at Sram, where he was head of new
product development. He retains a board seat and a substantial ownership
stake. (The two brothers together still own more than 50% of Sram--a stake
we estimate is worth $200 million. F.K. won't comment on the size or value
of his holdings.) He still sounds slightly amazed by Sram's success.
It's amazing too how a charity with a small budget ($2.5 million) and a
staff of 24, including 19 in Zambia, can change thousands of lives, two
wheels at a time.