Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise – The Talk of the Town!
UGANDA | Communities living on the edge of wilderness are on the frontline of human-wildlife-conflict and, if we expect them to maintain their commitment to living with wildlife – such as gorillas – they need to receive real, tangible improvement to their lives and livelihoods associated with the tourism industry.
In 2017, AKP decided to deepen our engagement with our partner community in Uganda by opening a new bike shop near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – an area that addresses the critical need for human-gorilla-conflict management. With the oversight of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp staff and the guidance of our community partners at Bwindi Community Hospital, AKP has supported the Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise by providing the shipment of two containers (approximately 830 bikes!) and two months of bike mechanic training for the women chosen to run the new shop.
Currently, there are not enough jobs to sustain the population living on the edge of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, creating pressure on park service management to prevent encroachment and other unsustainable resource utilization. Such tensions are not uncommon in Africa and in many parts of the world. In this instance, the equation includes the endangered mountain gorillas. Village mountain bike tours will be marketed to the thousands of travelers who come for gorilla trekking each year – many of them intrepid backpackers who ride mountain bikes. By helping to establish a woman-owned business directly tied to the park and the interest of guests to go gorilla trekking, we are expanding the network of stakeholders for whom gorilla conservation is important.
Open for business for only a few months, the Bwindi Women Bicycle Enterprise has been the talk of the town! Every homestead is making efforts to acquire a bike. The community has been greatly inspired by the intrepid women who are running the shop and using their newly-acquired skills to drive sales and bike rentals.
To further the shop’s success, A&K Australia DMC has generously supported the shipment of a third container of bikes. Shipped from Western Australia, this shipment of 430 bikes is scheduled to arrive this month. The additional bikes are sure to be well-received by the women and the community. Thank you to A&K Australia and all of our supporters of this project.