Early this September, Nakatindi Village and A&K Philanthropy proudly declared Chipego Bike Shop open for business. A social enterprise, the shop provides bicycles and mechanical support for local healthcare workers, students and customers throughout the community. The ribbon cutting was marked with a touching song, traditional dance and a tree planting, with the whole village joining in the celebration.
This moment wouldn’t have been possible without the combined efforts of the local villagers and A&K staff members, family and friends. Months earlier, A&K offices in the US and UK hosted bicycle collections, gathering over 700 bikes and packing them in shipping containers bound for Africa. Meanwhile, efforts were underway in Nakatindi to make sure the shop hit the ground running. In preparation for taking over shop operations on opening day, five local women, Esther, Bridget, Sitali, Musole and Agathar, underwent an intensive two-month training course in bike mechanics and business skills. Upon arrival of the shipping containers, the village broke out the tools, rolled up their sleeves and converted the hulking steel structures for use as the bike shop buildings.
With the celebrations of opening day now over, the spirit of hope and joy continues to radiate from the shop throughout the community and beyond. The shop exceeded expectations right out of the gate, drawing customers from across Zambia and as far as Namibia. In addition to keeping the bikes rolling, the women are reinvesting a portion of the proceeds of their shop back into the community. Many of the women also work for the Nakatindi Health Committee, caring for locals in need. The shop and the village continue to make the most of every spoke, chain and handlebar. The Nakatindi Health Committee extended their patient reach with 15 bikes, using another five to further their HIV/AIDS awareness campaign. Students of the Nakatindi Community School continuing on to secondary school use the bikes to get to and from classes. Showing inspiring determination, Esther, Bridget, Sitali, Musole and Agathar have truly embraced the project’s slogan, “We change lives!”