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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.
Two shipping containers, carrying more than 800 donated 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. The first shipment 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 sales. The strength in this program lies within its expansive outreach.
Currently shops have been launched in the following locations:
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.
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.
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. This is important because many of the donated bikes would otherwise end up in a land fill but this recycle and reuse component, creating it an enterprise venture from the start.
Project outcomes of two 2017 shipping containers:
In 2018 we sent one shipment that contained the following:
Alaa has hosted two bike tour groups thus far and he has continued his training with more qualified guides from Amman until he and his team have an appropriate level of experience. His tours showcase the historical, natural, and geopolitical significance of the region for international tourists and even tourists from other parts of Jordan. To date, Alaa has sold 16 bikes in order to supply the cash for setting up his shop. Alaa has already shown himself to be a capable entrepreneur, as he advertises to community members on his facebook page and is always thinking of ways to expand. As a result, Alaa is quickly amassing the funds needed to set up his shop and he is has been very successful in renting the bikes to the local community. To date, Alaa has rented out the bikes 224 times to locals in Um Qais and the interest to rent bikes is spreading to nearby villages. There has been a visible difference in Um Qais now that the bikes have arrived; on weekends, there are large groups of locals that ride bikes throughout the afternoon and evening. The impact has reflected on the local youth in Um Qais, who otherwise have very little recreational activities to do and no means of transportation. Baraka has trained 4 guides, and Alaa is hiring additional support from 2 people to run his operation. This project is supporting 4 families with a new source of income. Baraka Destinations will continue its partnership with Alaa to increase his access to the market by promoting and marketing his experience. He is currently promoted on the website and working closely with the Jordan Tourism Board.
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.