If you’re a fan of Higher Gear, you know we are huge fans of World Bicycle Relief and the work they do sharing The Power of Bicycles. Recently, WBR reached a wider audience.
TEDx is an independently organized TED event, based on the ideas and principles established by TED Talks. TEDx strives to create a deep conversation and deeper connections at the local level, while celebrating “the power of ideas to positively change the world.”
TEDxMidAtlantic invited speakers on education, business, science, technology and creativity to talk about and celebrate “Superpowers,” the theme of their October 2017 event in Washington, D.C. Here is how they described this event:
In this time of accelerated history and unprecedented change, each of us possesses unique insights and talents – their true impact often not yet discovered. Whether through incredible leaps in science or in simple grace amid great trials, all of us together will overcome today’s challenges to forge a surprising future. Perhaps unfamiliar, it will still be recognizable: fair, kind, human… even super-human. Join us, as we discover SUPERPOWERS both known and waiting to be discovered, through stories of individual triumph and global interconnectedness; this future is one we will enthusiastically embrace.
WBR’s co-founder, F.K. Day was one of the many “superheroes” who was invited to speak over the weekend. F.K. shared the story of how World Bicycle Relief came to be and where it has grown to since.
For those who don’t know F.K.’s story, he, his brother Stan and some friends founded SRAM in 1987 to produce high-end bicycle components including drive-trains, brakes, suspension and wheels. SRAM quickly grew to become the largest bicycle component supplier in the US and the second largest in the world.
Just after Christmas, 2004, F.K. watched helplessly, along with the rest of the world, the destruction wrought by the Indian Ocean earthquake and its ensuing tsunami. His frustration drove him to discover that he wasn’t powerless. His “superpower” was that he could, in fact, help.
Together with his wife Leah, and with support from SRAM Corp and the Bicycle Industry, F.K. founded the international non-profit World Bicycle Relief. Their efforts delivered over 24,000 new bicycles to men, women and children in to tsunami-impacted Sri Lanka. It was in Sri Lanka where F.K. first learned about The Power of Bicycles. “Wherever a bicycle was delivered [there was] boost of productivity and efficiency, this ability to use your transportation to regain your livelihood, and your jobs and your clinics.”
Just as they were wrapping up in Sri Lanka, someone from one of the NGOs involved approached F.K. with a remark that shook him: “The work you’ve done here is truly impactful, but do you realize the same number of people that died in the tsunami – which his about 230,000 – die every two weeks in Africa from hunger and preventable disease? You have to scale this bicycle program up in Africa.”
With a little research, F.K. discovered that the biggest obstacle in Sub-Saharan Africa is distance. “Every step a race to overcome the barrier of distance.” And couldn’t a bicycle help bridge that distance?
There was a lot of learning to get where they are today, lessons that lead to the creation of the Buffalo Bike. We’re sure you’d much rather hear the story from F.K. himself.
Let’s just say that F.K. leverages his and SRAM Corp’s bicycle experience and that of the global bicycle industry to deliver large-scale, comprehensive bicycle programs in developing countries. Working in partnership with NGOs, Corporations and Government Agencies, WBR executes bicycle programs that empower recipients to overcome the barriers of distance to healthcare, education and economic development.
Today, World Bicycle Relief employs over 100+ people in the US, Asia and Africa, and runs or supports 6 bicycle assembly facilities in Angola, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. To date, over 350,000 specially designed, locally assembled bicycles have been distributed and over 1,500 field mechanics have been trained.
F.K. looked at the possibility of transportation and discovered The Power of Bicycles.
Hear F.K. in his own words. Listen to the TedxMidAtlantic 2017 Session 3. F.K.’s presentation can be found: 44:00 – 1:00:00
Congratulations to F.K. and the team at WBR!
Meet Higher Gear customers who have witnessed the Power of Bicycles first-hand and those who ride to make a difference:
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