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September 7, 2010

Bike Loans!

This past Saturday was filled with excitement and joy at the 31 Bits compound as 57 women received brand new bicycles. Up until this week, most of the 31 Bits beneficiaries have walked long distances every day to get to work. Some of them live over an hour’s walk away and many make their commute with a small child strapped to their backs.  Their long journey causes many of them to be late, sometimes affecting their production and ultimately their pay.

But Saturday marked a new day.

Each woman was given an opportunity to take out a bike loan from 31 Bits with an agreement to pay back the amount within a 6-month period.  They were able to pick out the style they preferred and the cost that fit within their price range. The bikes enable the women to not only leave home at a later time but to also arrive earlier, allowing them to work longer and ultimately increase their income. Personal transportation also allows for quick trips around town, to the market, and to visit their families in the surrounding villages without paying for a motorcycle taxi. Owning a large asset such as a bicycle also helps boost their confidence and self-esteem knowing that they have been able to provide for themselves

Atoo Florence greeted me this morning with a big smile and firm handshake telling me, “Today I got to work in 10 minutes when it usually takes me 40 or 50. My neighbor asked me where I was going and I told her I was going to work at 31 Bits. She told me I looked smart.” Many more ladies approached me throughout the day expressing their joy and thankfulness for the bikes.

The compound now has its own parking lot for the proud owners to park their shiny two wheelers and there is an eruption of bells as the ladies announce their coming and going.