Bicycles Change Lives
Naviki interview: Kristina Jasiunaite
She is the passionate managing director of an international NGO that enables education in developing countries through the power of buffalo strong bicycles: We had a chat with Kristina Jasiunaite about World Bicycle Relief (WBR) and how a single bicycle can change lives.
Naviki: As "Managing Director Europe" for World Bicycle Relief I assume you to be very busy – how did you find your way to WBR actually?
Kristina Jasiunaite: That's true. World Bicycle Relief is gaining more and more attention in Europe as well. This creates continuously new contacts with people, companies or other organizations wanting to support us to enable education and development with bicycles. I know WBR's founder F.K. Day for decades. He brought me to WBR in 2013 and we founded the WBR country office in Germany.
What makes WBR as a charity organization special to you?
Ha - where should I start? Let me keep it short and highlight two aspects. First, self-responsibility and independence - in developing countries bicycles mobilize people and help them to help themselves. Second, World Bicycle Relief does its utmost to make aid as sustainable as possible. Our organizational model is the essential basis for this: WBR is purely non-profit and implements philanthropic bicycle programs for education and health. Then there's the Buffalo Bicycles, which is a social business that sells the bikes locally. Since it belongs to 100% WBR, the profits of the sales go to WBR. This increases their impact on development and makes our work more independent in the long term.
You are in the business for several years now, what successes do you look back with a smile on?
When I started working for World Bicycle Relief, we celebrated the first 100,000 bicycles delivered. Now more than 440,000 are already rolling. Behind every bike, there is a story of a whole family that can change their lives thanks to mobility.
WBR sees a strong connection between women empowerment and bicycles – how is that expressed concretely?
According to UNICEF, girls between the ages of five and 14 spend about 40 percent more unpaid housework than boys. Just fetching water costs girls and women around the world around 200 million hours a day. With a bike you can master the tasks in the household easier and save time and energy. They can use this time to go to school longer and better care for their families and communities.
WBR is also known for its Buffalo Bikes - what makes these bicycles special?
Our Buffalo bike is called Buffalo for a reason – it's as strong as a buffalo! It's a simple bicycle without gears and its luggage rack is designed for 100 kg loads. Above all, it meets the necessity to be easy to repair and have a very long duration. By that, in contrast to walking, people can transport five times heavier things and in the same get from A to B four times faster.
Do you have tips for people wanting to help?
Oh sure! It would be perfect if readers spread the word about World Bicycle Relief's story and get deeper information from our website. However, if anyone wants to go a step further, we are of course very happy about donations, individual fundraisers or companies' engagement. We have good online tools for this and if you have any questions, we are pleased to help and advice.
Thank you very much Kristina!
About Kristina Jasiunaite
Before Kristina Jasiunaite started setting up World Bicycle Relief’s efforts in Germany and Europe, she worked in the bicycle industry in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria for more than 14 years. Already in these years she dedicated herself to the idea that bicycles are a powerful and simple vehicle that can change the world. Kristina joined World Bicycle Relief in 2013 and as Managing Director Europe she is responsible for Fund Development and Corporate Partnerships.
Interviews with interesting people who have a special relation to cycling.