Doffa Bike Shop Open for Business

By Shakira, AKP Tanzania Coordinator

TANZANIA | The AKP Bike Shop Program empowers local communities through mobility: health care workers can see more patients, students can make the journey to school, middle- to low-income workers can get to work in an affordable manner, and families can carry more goods to and from home. Each bike shop employs women, providing them with the opportunity to support their families through earned income. Donated bikes have been collected by A&K staff in the US, UK, and Australia, as well as through our bike collection partner. In Tanzania, AKP supports the operations of two bike shops, Duuma Wajane Bike Shop in Babati and Doffa Bike Shop in Karatu.

Following successful implementation of Duuma Wajane Bike Shop, an idea for another “female-based bike shop” came up for the women of Karatu, namely Doffa Bike Shop, which is currently at the stage of implementation. At Doffa Bike Shop we are working with widows and women living with HIV. The women from both Duuma Wajane Bike Shop and Doffa Bike Shop are also single mothers and breadwinners in their homes. The bike shop enables them to support their children and their education.

Doffa Bike Shop employs four women who have gone through extensive training to become bike mechanics and operate their own business enterprise. Typically, this type of job would be given to a male. Through this female-driven model, AKP empowers women to experience a new field of skills, earn their own income, and help break the social construct of gender.

What makes Doffa Bike Shop particularly unique is that all the women employed at the shop are women living with HIV. In parts of Tanzania, gender inequality and stigma against those living with HIV still act as major barriers to HIV prevention. Women are heavily burdened by HIV in Tanzania where 780,000 women aged 15 and over are living with HIV. Doffa Bike Shop aims to empower women to live a dignified life, fight the stigma of HIV, and remove the discrimination of people living with HIV. If we are to see any real development in the world, then our best investment is women.

The shop is located in Karatu, a bustling colorful town and the gateway to the renowned Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Ngorongoro Crater. The site is 14 km away from the Ngorongoro gate. This way the shop is easily accessible to local customers and all visitors.

For the construction of Doffa Bike Shop, a new contemporary approach was taken towards its designs, aesthetics and functionality, including having two 40 ft containers stacked on top of each other. One to serve Doffa Bike Shop, while the other (the top one) serves as Ubuntu Bead Works. There will also be a viewing/relaxing area on the third floor, serving coffee. Keeping in mind the safety and comfort of our visitors and customers, western toilets have been constructed at the site.

After months of intensive work and construction, as well as training for the bike shop ladies, we are happy to report that Doffa Bike Shop is now officially open for business as of June 16, 2021!