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Jordan suffers from a high unemployment rate, officially at 15% and those living in remote villages often do not have the transportation needed to reach employment opportunities. Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP) seeks to establish bike shops in Jordan to function as a community enterprise tool. Not only will the shop provide steady income and employment for otherwise unemployed people but access to bicycles at an affordable price would bring increased mobility and tourism to the population. Training these locals to be bike mechanics and business managers provides highly impactful and long-term benefits to the employees and their families. Additionally, this project will tie into the Jordan Trail initiative and will strategically enable local and international tourists to bike between villages along this trail.
Currently there are bike projects in:
Though the bikes are donated from different US organizations, the initial set up of the shop requires an investment. Start-up expenses include: purchasing the shipping container to transport the bikes, shipping the container to Jordan, customs fees, purchasing the tools, and an extensive amount of training for future workers. Once the funds are raised and the bikes are sent to Jordan, to best ensure long-term sustainability, the core team works to identify on the ground partners that have existing field operations already with budgets that can go into training and product development of these bike shops.
For the first container, we worked with Baraka Destinations in in three locations and were able to maximize funding for guide training and route mapping. In Feynan we partnered with Ecohotels to provide access for the community to choose a strong candidate to run the bike venture. The second shipment, worked with local NGOs to allocate 75 bikes to three of its existing partners. The remainder of the bikes were distributed to partners with existing products and opportunities to develop these bike products with minimal financial investment.
Therefore, once the bikes arrive and after a couple days of training, the recipients of the bikes are ready to provide maintenance needs for the bikes they received as part of the shipment. Once all of the elements are in place, the shop is designed to be sustainable, paying for the costs of resupplying their stock of bikes with money earned through the sale, repair and rental of these bikes.
In 2017 we sent two shipments that contained the following:
These materials will empower local communities through mobility: health can workers can see more patients, students can make the journey to school, low-income workers can get to work in a more affordable manner, and families can carry more goods to and from home. Since these bikes have arrived in Jordan, there has been a noticeable impact to the areas and families that have been selected to receive bikes.
Ahmed is a local in the small community of Greigra and used to work as a guide at Feynan Ecolodge. He supports his family of seven but hasn’t been able to keep up with the expenses because of his problem of unemployment. He and his family were in desperate need of income and now he is running his own business of maintaining and repairing 170 bikes. He has sold and rented out 60 bikes to the local community. To better meet the needs of the local people, he has been selling the bikes with instalment plans that are paid over the course of the year. He even has invested money back into the project himself so he can buy tools for repair, accessories to sell and even improve children’s bikes. Ahmed has also gone to the municipality to obtain a license for his business. He has already seen the impact of bikes on his small community; farmers have used the bikes to work on the water network, students are riding bikes to school, and families are using them as transportation to the local store. Everyone who has taken a bike has nothing but good things to say and there is notable impact on the quality of life.
“Experience Baraka for Sustainable Tourism” has arranged two deals for Ahmed. Feynan Ecolodge has cancelled its bike offering and is instead outsourcing it to him. Experience Jordan, a local tour operator based in Amman, also plans to work with him. He has taken initiative and will travel to Amman soon to meet with Sari Husseini from Cycling Jordan to establish a partnership and start operating tours as well. The income from tourism will sustain the operation and support Ahmad in covering the cost for new bikes that he will sell to the community.
Yes, the project is continuing in this community and the many other locations across the country as AKP supports the growing business model of these shops. By empowering these bike shop owners, this shop will demonstrate to both the local communities and international travellers that tourism can have a positive impact. It is a starting point for our organization to expand deeper into developing projects in Jordan and to do so with the right partnerships of a local NGOs, Government and the travel industry. AKP is committed to giving back to the places where Abercrombie & Kent guests travel.
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