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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- A pair of riders from Bucknell University, along with two from Bentley College and Fordham University, are hoping a bike ride across the country can help change the world.
Beginning in June, the six riders will trek 4,227 miles over nine weeks to raise money and awareness for what they believe is a sustainable answer to fighting poverty -- microfinance. The team is scheduled to leave from Darien, Conn., on June 8 and arrive in San Francisco on Aug. 5.
"Microfinance is already affecting the quality of life around the world by reaching those without access to traditional means of finance," said rider and recent Bucknell graduate Keith Kolakowski.
Calling themselves MicroBikeUSA: Making an International Change as we Ride On, the riders are partnering with Boston-based ACCION International, a world pioneer in microfinance that has helped build microfinance institutions in developing countries since 1973. The two Bucknell riders, Kolakowski and junior Jamie Watson, have studied civil and environmental engineering. Kolakowski graduated with a degree in the major earlier this month.
Microfinance has gained recognition since the Grameen Bank and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for extending microcredit to impoverished areas of Bangladesh. The concept is simple: Microloans as small as $50 each give billions of people a chance to break the cycle of poverty by leveraging their own entrepreneurial skills. The loans are repaid at respectable interest rates, and the average repayment rate is about 97 percent.
Along the TransAmerica Trail route, the MicroBikeUSA team will stop at local schools and public forums to talk about microfinance and promote ACCION as a microcredit innovator. The team has set a fundraising goal of $50,000 for the ride.
All money raised will go to support ACCION’s current projects, including developing training centers in Bangalore, India and Ghana; technology initiatives to lower administrative costs; and an InterAmerican Development Bank project for rural development.
The riders will update their progress along the way in a blog at www.microbikeusa.com. More information about the riders, the route and donations is available at that site or by e-mailing MicroBikeUSA@gmail.com.
Contact: Division of Communications