The NicaBike Shop Story: From a Seed to a Tree of All-In Hope

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

The NicaBike Shop is today one of, if not, the largest retailer of preowned bicycles in Nicaragua. However, it did not start out that way. Like a tree, the NicaBike Shop started as a seed, sprouted through the ground into a seedling, and, in time, became a tree of all-in hope.

The NicaBike Shop Storefront

Initially, the NicaBike Shop was not actually the NicaBike Shop. Starting as a dream in the head of Cal, a NicaWorks! board member, and other NicaWorks! team members as they thought about ways to provide practical home to the teenagers at the Casa Bernabe Orphanage in Veracruz, what eventually became the NicaBike Shop started as a small vocational training program. Realizing bikes were a relatively inexpensive mode of transportation and a great starting point for someone who wanted to learn repair skills, Cal and his friends wondered what it would look like to send used bikes to Nicaragua. Exploring their options, they found out that the local police department had an inventory of recovered, unclaimed bikes that they needed to donate. Cal and his team knew just the place and, just like that, the seed was planted to create the bicycle repair vocational training program at Veracurz.

After working through the logistics of sending the bikes to Nicaragua in shipping container, and collecting a few more bikes, the first bicycles for the bike repair vocational training program took the long journey from northern Virginia to Veracruz, Nicaragua. After receiving the bikes, the staff from Casa Bernabe, with the support of Cal and the NicaWorks! team, began to train teenagers to repair bikes. After repairing them and cleaning them up, the bikes would either be given away or sold to help support the program and the orphanage. This cycle continued, as did the bike collections in the United States, which Cal had expanded to bike drives at churches. The seed of practical hope was breaking through the soil.

The vocational training program continued to grow, but they began to run into a problem: what to do with all of the bikes they were repairing. While they were able to donate and sell some of them, they were not equipped to sell and properly manage the marketing sales piece of the puzzle.

Around the same time, Josh Jaentschke, the eventual, Field Director of NicaWorks!, his brother Andrew, and their friend William were working at the Casa Bernabe orphanage. Josh, the son of a pastor, while still on a spiritual journey, had a foundation of spiritual hope. He believed he was created on purpose and for a purpose, which had been reinforced by others throughout his life. Josh also had an entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in business, which he used to run the team center at the Veracruz Farm on which the Casa Bernabe Orphanage is located. Little did Josh know, this would be preparation for something more.

As Cal continued to collect bikes and the vocational training program continued to repair bikes, it became apparent that there was a real opportunity to do something more. During this time Josh, Andrew, and William began to sense that it might be time for them to do something new as well. This led to an idea early in 2014: what if we launched a bike shop? What started as a conversation, quickly turned into a real discussion about the possibility moving what had started as a small scales vocational program in Veracruz to Managua to become a true preowned bike sales and repair business. The seedling of al-in hope was growing.

In what can only be providential, Tim Adams, the Co-Founder of NicaWorks!, had recently reconnected with a friend who happened to be interested in investing in small business development in Nicaragua. Tim knew just the opportunity: the launch of a bike shop. Traveling to Nicaragua with Tim, the friend met Josh, Andrew, and William, and encouraged them to put together a business plan. The question of supply came up, but Cal had an answer: he would expand the bike drives to other churches and bike stores to ensure he could ship at least 400 used bikes a quarter. This would allow the soon to be formed bike shop to purchase the bikes at a favorable price, funding other work in Nicaragua through the purchase.

With the plan developed, the bike supply chain arranged, funding available, and excitement building, Josh, William, and Andrew, in partnership with NicaWorks! launched the NicaBike Shop in June 2014. The seed of all-in hope had become a growing seedling spurred on by the practical hope from a real opportunity and the spiritual hope from a reframed identity.

I would love to tell you the journey toward a thriving business was a straight line, but the reality is it has been full of ups and downs. This should come as no surprise as this is to be expected when launching a small business, especially in a developing country such as Nicaragua where the lie of hopelessness has a strong hold. However, through the ups and downs, the power of all-in hope has pushed the NicaBike Team forward. This has come in many forms, including Cal’s relentless effort to provide practical hope through the collection of bikes as well as Josh and Andrew’s spiritual hope, which has only grown since the launch of NicaBike shop 8 years ago. In fact, they now see the NicaBike Shop as a platform to provide spiritual and practical hope to others such as their employees, customers, and distributors.

NicaBike Shop Team Members

Now having received and sold well over 10,000 bikes, the NicaBike Shop has grown into an oak tree of all-in hope, reaching others through continued growth. No one imagined the small vocational program would becoming a thriving business and platform for sharing hope, but that is the power of all-in hope–it overcomes the lie of hopelessness and creates ever expanding opportunities for real change. The NicaBike Shop is a beautiful picture of this reality.

The story does not end there. Did you notice the role people played in writing this story of all-in hope? This is great news for each of us. Like Cal, Tim, and others, we can bring what we have to the table to make a difference in the life of someone else. We may only have a small part, but together we can take what starts as a seed and turn it into a tree of all-in hope. You have what it takes to make a difference!

If you need a little help getting started, feel free to reach out to me as well as click here to sign up to receive a free resource I created called, 5 Foundational Steps to Make a True Difference in Someone’s Life. You can also check out my book, Hope Realized, which shares more stories of hope and thoughts on how you can get engaged in bringing hope to others. Click here for more on Hope Realized.

Remember, no one is truly hopeless!

James Belt

2 thoughts on “The NicaBike Shop Story: From a Seed to a Tree of All-In Hope

  1. Lovely to see what the Lord have been doing throughout these years. God is good.
    Thanks to you wonderful people for bringing hope to so many families because of this effort.

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