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Project Background

This project continues the work of a previously funded Footprints initiative, read more here.

Jordan suffers from a high unemployment rate, officially at 15%. Those living in remote villages often do not have the transportation necessary to reach employment opportunities.

Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP) has been working to establish a series of bike shops in Jordan to function as a community enterprise benefiting many people. The shops are modeled on four other similar bike shops AKP has established in Africa, two are located in Zambia, one in Botswana, and one in Tanzania.

Two shipping containers, carrying more than 800 donated secondhand bikes, were delivered to Jordan in summer 2017. Since then, community organizers have been hard at work establishing mini-enterprises – both for local benefit and for tourism purposes.

In the few months after the bikes have arrived, there has been noticeable impact to the areas that have been selected to receive bikes. Each new shop or bike rental enterprise provides steady income and employment for up to eight people, including trained guides. These shops are also giving others the means to travel further distances for jobs, to get to their livestock, etc. Jordan also has a shortage of schools, especially secondary schools, preventing children from receiving the education they need to build a better future.

With access to bikes, children in smaller villages are now able to travel to bigger towns and attend school. Finally, this project ties into the Jordan Trail initiative and will strategically enable local and international tourists to bike between villages along the trail.

The first shipments of bikes have been strategically distributed to a variety of shops that differ in their location, associated organization, and purpose. Depending on these variables, each enterprise follows a main business model of tourist/recreational rentals, local rentals, or local sales. The strength in this program lies within its expansive outreach. Rather than singling out one community or one need, this project addresses the needs of many. Currently, shops have been launched in the following locations:

  • Um Qais
  • Feynan
  • Petra
  • Shobak
  • Tafileh
  • Amman

Project Objective, Aims and Outcomes

These shops employ otherwise jobless and disadvantaged people, training them to be bike mechanics and business managers and bike tour guides. In addition to providing highly impactful and long-term benefits to the employees and their families, the shops give their communities access to a simple yet effective alternative mode a transportation. More children are able to make the journey to school and adults are better able to reach employment far away from home. Health care workers are also able to utilize the bicycles to reach patients in remote areas. 

Another positive element to the bike shop operations is its mission to give back to the community. After all wages and business expenses are paid, remaining funds are set aside to fund local charitable projects. In the win-win-win structure of this program it’s important to note: many of the donated bikes would otherwise end up in a land fill. There is a recycle / reuse component to the venture from the start.

Each destination that received bikes has developed their own projects, meeting the needs of their communities and organizations:

  • Ahmed Gawasmeh is a Feynan local who was unemployed and desperately in need of incometo support his family. With the bike shipment, he has created his own business repairing and maintaining bikes for sales and rentals.
  • Al Numeira Environmental Association, NEA uses their center as a multicultural meeting point, where international visitors can experience the local culture, while also sharing some of their own culture with the people of Ghor. The organization plans to rent out bikes to the local community and to provide bikes to tourists coming to experience Ghor. 
  • Baraka Destinations is using the bikes to support a project in Um Quais that offers tours that showcase the historical, natural, and geopolitical significance of the region for international tourists and even tourists from other parts of Jordan.
  • Cycling Jordan, one of the leading companies to create a bike culture in Jordan, has developed a Mountain Biking Trail on the outskirts of Amman. They had their first race on that trail in September 2017 and nearly 100 local and international cyclists participated. The donated container from this program will act as a hub for bike maintenance, rentals, and snacks to those coming to the trail.
  • Hikayet Sitti, Food Basket is a restaurant that is run and operated by local women from Madaba. The will offer the bicycles they received to be used by locals and tourists to highlight the history of Madaba and to showcase local food and sweets.
  • Jordan Heritage Revival Company, Montreal Hotel plans to use their bikes for their guests to visit local villages, farms, and associations to buy community products.
  • The Royal Aero Club is developing a route at their Dead Sea site and also tentatively planning to develop an area for track cycling in which they will consult USAID/BEST. These activities will be available to the club’s members first, with the plan to eventually open up to locals, tourists, and others interested in the sport.
  • Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya is a non-profit community development organization that works with disenfranchised communities through education, youth volunteerism and grassroots organizing. With various initiatives in Amman, Tafileh, Hosineah, and Al Baidah, their bike programs follow two tracks: empowering local youth through cycling and investing in entrepreneurs interested in the tourism sector in Jordan.

What's Covered in Project Costs

Though the bikes are donated from the US, the initial set up of each shop requires an investment. Start-up expenses include: customs fees; purchase of tools; re-purposing the shipping containers to serve as a bike shop; and an extensive amount of training for the bike shop workers. 

Once all of the elements are in place, the shops are designed to be sustainable, paying for the costs of resupplying their stock of bikes with money earned through the sale of bikes, the repair of bikes, and the rental of bikes for tours.

A break down of actual costs associated with establishing a bike shop enterprise include:

  • Additional Customs Fees: $3,000
  • Technical Training for Bike Shop Workers: $3,000
  • Re-purposing the container on site: $3,000
  • Purchase of tools: $1,000

Project Partners & Community Involvement

AKP has established this series of bike shop enterprises in partnership with the Jordan Trail Association, Baraka, World Nomads, the Jordan Tourism Board and with industry support from the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) as well as Wheels of Change. AKP has taken the lead in sourcing and shipping the bikes and bike repair and maintenance training. 

Baraka has worked to engage community leaders and determine the best business approach. It is essential to have government and community buy in to ensure the smooth establishment of the enterprises and its long-term success. 

How Does the Project Fit Into a Larger Strategy

AKP is committed to giving back to the places where Abercrombie & Kent guests travel. These bike shop enterprises demonstrate to both the local communities and international travelers 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 partnership of a local NGO, Government, the travel industry and travelers.

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