Where most people see a bike, Muyambi Muyambi and Molly Burke see potential. Their organization, Bicycles Against Poverty, uses a microfinance model to distribute bikes in rural Uganda, turning what would be a three-hour walk into a swift spin to health clinics, markets, and schools.
"I'm from southern Uganda, but grew up traveling often to the north, an area deeply affected by war," says 24-year-old Muyambi. "Traveling showed me how people lived, and it revealed their struggles." Muyambi found a way to make a difference while studying at Pennsylvania's Bucknell University, where he met Burke. Together, they developed their nonprofit, which distributes bikes to low-income entrepreneurs who make monthly payments of about $3 to cover half the price of a bike. The organization, which has issued more than 660 bikes so far, then provides workshops in financial management.
While looking to expand their program, the cyclophiles raise funds through their annual 3,200-mile bike tour across the U.S. It's not easy-Muyambi works as a civil engineer in Washington, D.C., and Burke draws no salary from the organization. Says Muyambi, "It's amazing to feel you're contributing to the people you love, the country you love, and the world you love-because they are all connected."