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Mike's Bikes Botswana Sister Shop

Click here for the JonMol website!
 
 
 

JonMol Bicycle Services - Mike's Bikes Sister Shop in Botswana
 
Click here to read the Marin Independent Journal's blurb on the Mike's Bikes Sister Shop.

Mike's Bikes has hit the ground rolling with their new Sister Shop in Gaborone, Botswana. Owners Ken Martin and Matt Adams, fresh from their recent bicycle philanthropy work in Ghana, overcame obstacles great and small to finally realize their goal of creating a self-sustaining source of affordable bicycle transportation in Botswana.

The idea was born when Botswanan Red Cross worker Jon 'Bones' Moletsane was linked with Ken and Matt through the BikeTown Africa Aid Project. A major problem in Bones' home of Botswana was that average people there had absolutely no access to bicycles. Private car ownership remains largely out of reach, and public transit for the city of over 200,000 is unreliable and expensive, meaning that the primary mode of local transportation is by foot. It became obvious that a source of affordable bikes could literally change lives. In a place like Africa, bicycles allow their owners access to health care, education, and employment that would be otherwise unreachable.

There are many bicycle-related aid projects currently under way in Africa, but Ken and Matt saw in them a fundamental flaw that they wanted to correct. Most of these projects collect bikes, donate them to a community, and then leave. While this is great for the limited number of people that end up with the bikes initially, it does nothing to create a sustainable supply of bikes in the long run. It also does nothing to ensure that the donated bikes will stay operational with replacement parts or service. Even a simple flat tire can land these donated bikes discarded on the side of the road.

As part of the company's vision that bikes have the power to change the world, Mike's Bikes made it their mission to create and fully fund a start-up bicycle store for Bones in Gabarone, Botswana, and to educate him on how to sell and service bicycles, and how to run a successful business. Ken and Matt believed this to be the best way to make an impact on the community that was not only self-sustaining, but would actually grow organically and spread the use of the bicycle as reliable, affordable transportation in Gabarone as time went on.

The company asked its customers to get involved by donating their old bikes to the Mike's Bikes Africa Bike Drive, and the Northern California cycling community responded.  Customers donated bikes over a period of three months at all six Mike's Bikes stores, and Mike's purchased a 40' shipping container to transport the bikes to Africa. Dynacraft Bikes also pitched in with a hugely generous donation of 75 new bikes. At the end of the wildly successful Bike Drive, 406 bicycles were collected and packed into the shipping container with help from students from Oakland's College Preparatory School.

In this unique model, the donated bikes are given by Mike's Bikes to the Sister Shop at no charge, who then sells them for a fair price to the local community. The proceeds generated by this first wave of sales are then reinvested by the Sister Shop into purchasing the second round of inventory, and a self-sustaining constant supply of bicycles and spare parts is created, along with local technical knowledge to keep the bikes running well.
As the 406 bikes completed their eight week journey from California, Ken and Matt, along with eight students from CPS in Oakland and their chaperones, made their own journey to Botswana to meet Bones and begin the task of building their African Sister Shop, JonMol Cycle Services. The shop was outfitted with display space, work areas and bicycle storage. Large boxes of donated parts and accessories brought on the flight from San Francisco were unpacked and displayed. Signage was ordered and installed. Marketing material was distributed to the public - by bike of course! And as soon as the container of bikes was unsealed on the morning of Sunday, July 13, it was apparent the venture would be a roaring success. The shop was not even yet officially open, but with families noticing the sea of bikes on their way home from church, Ken, Matt, and Bones were swarmed with shoppers as they unloaded the shipping container. By the end of the day, 15 bikes had found new homes, and JonMol Bicycle Services was born.


"Many people seem to fall for the idea of bicycling..."
-Bones Moletsane


The important final step was to establish relationships with distributors in neighboring South Africa for Bones to reinvest his initial revenue in more inventory of bikes, parts and accessories. Ken and Matt used their contacts in South Africa to connect the two markets and a new supply chain was created. The Sister Shops, Mike's Bikes and JonMol, have been in constant contact since Ken and Matt's return to California. As with any new company, especially one in Africa, challenges, questions and issues arise continuously, and Mike's Bikes has committed to mentoring Bones through to success.

Since Ken and Matt have spent most of their careers in bicycle retail, their Sister Shop program is a perfect way to use their business skills and their bicycle knowledge to affect positive change that is both long-lasting and self-sustaining. The Mike's Bikes Foundation is their new non-profit entity, and is currently applying for 501c(3) tax-exempt status. The Sister Shop program is infinitely scalable, and the Mike's Bikes Foundation will be the primary vehicle to fund the effort. The search is currently under way for the next African entrepreneurs to start the next Sister Shops and expand the program to benefit as many communities as possible.

In a recent email conversation, Bones reported that business at JonMol Bicycle Services is doing very well and improving every day. "Many people seem to fall for the idea of bicycling," reports Bones. Everyone at Mike's Bikes couldn't be more thrilled to hear those words.
 
 

 

Jonmol Bicycle Services Logo

Click on the Thumbnails below to enlarge.
 

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana

Mike's Bikes sister shop in Gabarone, Botswana



First Wave of Bikes for Jonmol Bicycle Services
Our initial bike purchase (from Namibia's Bicycle Empowerment Network) got Bones' shop rolling while he awaited the container of bikes from our Africa Bike Drive.
bones and bikes

container for bikes


bones at work
 



Africa Bike Drive
Thanks to everyone that helped with our bike drive for Africa! The final tally is in: 406 bikes, plus basic shop supplies, wheels, tires, and dozens and dozens of racks and baskets that were removed from the bikes. The pictures don't do justice to how tight these bikes are shoehorned in there - every available air pocket is filled with something.  Nothing short of a smashing success so far!
 
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