Remember when bike-sharing was a trend in Msia? There were quite a few bike-sharing companies that were popular before such as oBike, Ofo and Mobike. Alas, all these companies ceased operations in Malaysia resulting in thousands of bike were left abandoned.
While it brought some relief to urban commuters, but the lack of infrastructure and regulations together with Malaysia’s weather killing bike-sharing services. Broken bikes can be found rotting in many parts of Kuala Lumpur due to vandalism and it became a nightmare for DBKL to clearing the bikes.
Thankfully one man took the opportunity to put them to use by shipping the unused bicycles to Myanmar school children.
1. Mike Than Tun Win is an entrepreneur with a big heart
Tech investor Mike Than Tun Win saw it as an opportunity to improve the lives of children in his home country. He bought 10,000 bikes earlier this year and shipped them home to be handed out to Yangon children, in hopes of giving them easier access to education.
2. He aims to help students walk out from poverty and give proper access to education
As an entrepreneur who founded “Lesswalk”, the main intention is to keep children in schools longer so they can get an education and escape poverty. The 33-year-old-entrepreneur recalled the day when he saw students walking for many hours to get to school and he felt really sorry for them.
3. Mike spent around $35 for each recycled bike
The founder shared how recycled bicycles have gone a long way to help the children. Each bike cost him just $35 including shipping and distribution and he footed half the bill with the other half coming from sponsors.
After changing several compartments, he is now ready to start to hand out the bright orange and yellow cycles to more children.
4. Still, he faced several challenges
Mike said that he faced several challenges in procuring and shipping the bicycles. Initially, when he tried to buy recycled bicycles, there were many legal challenges. Some suppliers required him to remove the logo and pay legal fees.
Furthermore, when importing into Yangon, many officials also questioned his intention to donate the bicycles. Because the bicycles looked new, they questioned the purchase value and slapped heavy custom duties.
5. “They might not be worth anything for us, but they’re valuable in a poorer country.”
Lesswalk hopes to hand out 100, 000 bicycles in the next five years. They also plan to expand to Mandalay and Sagaing. Mike said that he might have to spend more money, but it is better than these bicycles are going to help some people rather than going to waste.
Currently, bicycles have helped around 200 students. He is expecting to receive the rest of the 6,700 bicycles soon to be distributed to families.