Abundance of VBP Donated Spare Parts Creates Business Opportunity in Freetown

Spent the afternoon with Ada and Frank, the wife and son of Richard, our importer in Sierra Leone.

Ada is running the parts shop that Richard had to open after our Seattle/Idaho  team sent a shipment half full of parts last summer, (more than 1000 cubic feet).

It took several weeks of help from volunteer Chris Harbert-Erceg to get the place organized enough to find the parts that people ask for.

Now the family is running what is surely the largest bicycle spare parts shop in the country.  Indeed, its probably the only second hand imported spare parts shop in the country.  As VBP followers know, second hand parts are widely known to be more durable than the new bling junk made in China.

Ada asked me for help with spokes, “People are always asking for them and I don’t know what to do.”

I’m certain that Ada’s interest in spokes had been sparked because another volunteer, Charlotte Fagan had taught her how to build wheels.  Ada then laced spokes for 20 wheels on her own.  Yes, Ada now knows how to build wheels!  That is fantastic!

So, seven year old Frank was sent out to collect a few of the abundantly discarded plastic drink bottles, and we cleaned them out, separated a pile of spokes by length, measured them, and put them into freshly labeled bottles.  Now bicycle repairers of Sierra Leone and neighboring Guinea have convenient access to the spokes they need to build and repair wheels.

I’m willing to bet that Richard’s family will soon have competition selling used parts, as others see how lucrative parts sales can be.  Its all good.


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