Main image via New Straits Times
Have you ever wondered where all the bicycles from the bike-sharing program, oBike, are now? Since its introduction in Singapore and Malaysia in April 2017, it was not quite the hit it had hoped to be. Just slightly over a year since its inception, oBike withdrew from both Singapore and Malaysia and announced that it would sell its bikes to the public.
However, in March 2019, The Star reported that thousands of oBike bicycles were seen piling up in Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) depots, making it an overwhelming nightmare of a task for DBKL.
Image via The Star
Fortunately, this nightmare is being turned into an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students in Myanmar, thanks to Mandalay entrepreneur Mike Than Tun Win.
When he heard that bike-sharing companies oBike, Ofo and Mobike had left the market in Malaysia and Singapore, Mike bought 10,000 of the abandoned bicycles and shipped them to Myanmar to support his program, “Lesswalk.” This program aims to offer all the bicycles over the next 5 years to students from poor families to keep them in schools.
They might not be worth anything in Singapore, but they’re valuable in a poorer country.
Image via Malay Mail
The program is currently available to 200 students in Yangon and will be rolled out to Mandalay and Sagaing regions later this month, prioritizing children aged 13 to 16 who live more than 2km from their schools.
I saw students walking for many hours to get to school and I felt really sorry for them. … Many children don’t even have umbrellas — they just use pieces of plastic to cover them when it rains.
Mike paid for half of the entire cost of the program, which amounted to US$35 (RM145) per bike, including shipping and distribution costs. The other half is borne by sponsors supporting the program.
What a hero! We’re so glad that this disaster is turned around to not only help the environment, but also change the lives of those in need.