Dutch-based financial institution ING Bank has chosen the Philippines anew as the recipient-country for its Asia-wide “Orange Bike” project.
The five-year project, which is now in its second year, will benefit 5,000 children from select Asian countries. With their bikes, the children can get to their school faster and safer, thus improving their school attendance and academic performance.
On July 5, 2014, ING Bank launched the second round of the project by distributing 590 bikes to four high schools in Zambales in the municipalities of Cabangan, and Botolan, the province’s largest town. With the help of its non-profit partner World Vision, ING Bank has chosen the towns where the children live far away from school and access to public transport is limited.
“By providing bikes, ING Bank is hoping to spare the children from their daily arduous walk to school on sometimes wet or dusty roads. We want the children to improve their school attendance and academic performance, and ultimately, have a chance for a better future,” said Consuelo Garcia, country manager of ING Bank in the Philippines.
Recognizing that the significance of the project goes beyond distributing bikes, the ING Orange Bike project is also supported by the Department of Education (DepED) in the Philippines. “This will not only help them get to school but also provides a way to teach road safety and environmentalism,” said Br. Armin A. Luistro, DepED Secretary.
In October 2013, the ING Orange Bike project was piloted in the towns of San Isidro and Cordon in Isabela province, where children had to walk at least five kilometers to school and transportation is limited.
“The Orange Bike project is a key initiative of ING Bank to create a greater impact to society and make a difference especially in the lives of children. We are heartened by the promising results from the pilot project in Isabela province last year and look forward to extending the project to Zambales,” said Mark Newman, CEO of ING Commercial Banking Asia.
Aside from World Vision, ING Bank has also partnered with World Bicycle Relief, another non-profit organization with global reach, to implement the project in the Philippines. World Vision takes care of project implementation on the ground, while World Bicycle Relief provides logistical support in supplying the bikes and training for the local bike mechanics on the proper maintenance and repair.
A Bicycle Supervisory Committee (BSC) has also been formed by World Vision to oversee the project’s implementation and ensure its success. The BSC is composed of the schools’ principals and representatives from the parents, teachers, and local government officials.
“Donating bikes is only the first step. With the help of the BSC working closely on the ground with the children and their families, we hope that the ING Orange Bike project will make a lasting impact on their lives,” said Newman.
ING Bank and its employees in Asia contributed their own money and raised funds for the project by initiating activities such as a charity lunch in Singapore and a cross-country bicycle tour in Thailand. Some of the employees from Singapore and Hong Kong also flew to the Philippines to personally hand over the bikes to the student beneficiaries, along with their ING Manila colleagues.
The ING Orange Bike project is envisioned to benefit other students in Asia, such as in Indonesia.