Upcycled ex-postie bikes are delivering a better life in Africa
There are so many upsides to buying an Elephant bike that it’s not easy to know where to begin. The story started a few years ago when a small Staffordshire-based charity, the Krizevac Project, got its hands on a fleet of old Royal Mail postal bikes. The virtually indestructible Pashley frames were destined for the scrap heap, but were given a new lease of life in Africa. The old bikes were stripped down and fully serviced with the help of young offenders in a local prison on who were working towards passing their cycle ycle maintenance certificates. The bikes were re then shipped to Malawi where game wardens ns used them to ride around the perimeter fence ce of a black rhino sanctuary. The wardens ns were delighted but the local elephants were less than impressed. They took an immediate objection to the original “Royal red” Post Office paint job and often charged at the wardens. The bikes were returned to the workshop where they were resprayed a more “bush friendly” shade of green.
When you buy an Elephant bike, the charity uses that money to donate a second bike to its social enterprise, which is also in Malawi. Owning a bike there means securing work, generating an income and getting an invaluable education. It’s the old “buy one, get one free” offer, but with an ethical twist.
In the past three years, the Krizevac Project has sent 17,446 bikes to Africa. The bikes are sent over in shipping containers and every inch of space is filled with donated books, school supplies, tools and sewing machines.
So far 98 fully loaded containers have made their way across the sea. From a total stock of more than 20,000 postal bikes there are now only about 2,500 Elephant bikes left. When they’re gone, they’re gone. So the charity has spent the past year considering what to do next.
They’ve decided to combine their twin passions of recycling and transforming lives and come up with Cycle of Good. They’ve trained local people to make quality handcrafted goods in Malawi using traditionally printed cloth and recycled materials, like your old bicycle inner tubes. The inner tubes are converted into everything from wallets and pencil cases to backpacks, shoppers and laptop c cases. The plan is that bike shops and cycle clubs in the UK and elsewhere will collect old tubes and donate them, ready to be upcycled. We can help by buying these thes products from the website. All proceeds from the sale sal of Cycle of Good products go on to fund other enterp enterprise developments in Malawi and, perhaps most crucia crucially, the running of a children’s centre which is supporting thousands of kids to give them a better start in life.
In the endless debate over whether it’s bett better to give or to receive, it seems we have
ac a clear winner – it’s best to do both! ■