An Entrepreneur Just Bought 10,000 Bikes For Kids In Myanmar

He's making use of some failed business plans.

Mike Than Tun Win bought over 10,000 bicycles from defunct bike-sharing companies that he is now going to donate to students in Myanmar.

The plan came into focus after several bike-sharing startups from China and Indonesia pulled back from the international markets they entered just a few years ago. Their new business plans, or their decisions to cease operations, left thousands of unwanted bikes in circulation. Then decided to buy those bikes up and re-fashion them for students in need.


"It's a common sight to see lines and lines of students walking long distances from home to school in rural villages," Than told Tech Crunch. "Some students can walk up to one hour from home to school and the families can hardly afford a simple form of transport like bicycle or motorcycle… a school bus is almost unheard of to the students in rural villages."

To make the bike's suitable, Than started a non-profit called LessWalk that purchases the unwanted bikes, gives them a second seat and replaces the QR code-scan lock with a normal bike lock. Then, he ships them to Myanmar. 

All told, it cost about $40 to fix and ship each bike, Tech Crunch reported. Than has already pulled together 4,000 of the 10,000 bikes, most of which are brand new bikes that were never on the streets. It's taken about $400,000 to get the project off the ground and Than is providing about half of the money on his own. Other funds have come in from donors and sponsors.

"Suddenly, there was an opportunity to buy [these bikes] at fraction of price," he told Tech Crunch. "The benefit it can develop is well beyond that cost."

LessWalk plans to target students who walk at least 2km to school or are in families that don't have transportation. Than hopes to explore a program in the future that will collect the thousands of abandoned bikes in streets

"I thought if we could just reduce the time they take, they could spend more time studying, gain more knowledge and increase their chances of getting out of poverty," Than told TODAY.


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