What a road does at a macro level to increase transport, the bicycle supports at the micro level. The bicycle, in that sense, can be one of the best means to eradicate poverty in developing nations.
World Bicycle Relief is an international, non-profit organization based in Chicago, IL that specializes in large-scale, comprehensive bicycle distribution programs to aid poverty relief in developing countries around the world. Their programs focus primarily on education, economic development, and health care. As of November 2015, World Bicycle Relief has distributed more than 275,000 bicycles and trained more than 1,000 bicycle mechanics in the developing world. Within their largest program, the Bicycles For Educational Empowerment program, nearly 70 percent of the student bicycles are designated for girl students.
Studies done in Africa (Uganda and Tanzania) and Sri Lanka on hundreds of households have shown that a bicycle can increase the income for families by as much as 35%. Transport, if analyzed for the cost-benefit analysis for rural poverty alleviation, has given one of the best returns in this regard. For example, road investments in India were a staggering 3-10 times more effective than almost all other investments and subsidies in rural economies in the 1990s. What a road does at a macro level to increase transport, the bicycle supports at the micro level. The bicycle, in that sense, can be one of the best means to eradicate poverty in developing nations.
World Bicycle Relief was founded in 2005 by SRAM co-founder and Executive Vice President F.K. Day following the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Day and his wife, documentary photographer Leah Missbach Day, travelled to Sri Lanka to witness local relief efforts. In discussions with aid groups on the ground, they realized the potential value a bicycle distribution program, and thus created World Bicycle Relief. World Bicycle Relief then partnered with World Vision and a local manufacturer to produce and distribute bicycles specially designed to fit the needs and terrain of the recipients, a format that they would later use with other projects.
World Bicycle Relief has fundraising entities in the United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.