Mr. Sparky

SARASOTA – Those attending Sarasota’s fourth PINC Conference will hear from speakers working on innovative ideas in teaching, entrepreneurship, women’s rights and much more.

Speaker Claire Elsdon left London on a motorcycle in 2012 and headed to Cape Town. Along the way, she developed a fascination for motor bike maintenance and met women who needed her help.

“So I thought I think I have the opportunity to make a difference,” Elsdon said. “And to give back to those communities that helped me along the way, every time I slid over in the mud, or ran out of petrol or whatever it was.”

Motor vehicle crashes are one of the highest causes of death in Africa. Elsdon founded Pikilily to help women get the freedom of travel, safely.

“The first training was learning basic maintenance,” Elsdon said. “Which we do in collaboration with our male mechanics in the workshop that are great, we’ve also taught them to ride motor bikes and they’ve got certificates now to prove they are fit for that.”

Elsdon was then asked to help renovate and run a motorbike ambulance service.

“Which is going to be totally staffed by local women,” Elsdon said. “They are going to be riding those bikes, maintaining them, and a primary function of that is going to be rescuing laboring mothers from their rural homes and bringing them to a well-staffed hospital where they can deliver safety.”

Ambulances operate 24 hours a day, so Pikilily also trains women in first aid and self-defense.

“We’ve actually had them trained by Africa’s national martial arts champion in self-defense skills,” Elsdon said. “So in case they’re riding out in the dark in a remote village, and somebody comes up to them with a negative intention, they can take that guy down, so they are basically ninjas.”

Pikilily received a lot of their initial support from biking communities around the world. Biking groups are starting to form across Africa.

“I call it biker-adery,” Elsdon said. “It’s like camaraderie for bikers. It’s definitely strong throughout the world which is a beautiful thing.”

You can learn more about Pikilily here.

There are still a handful of tickets for the PINC Conference. You can find more information here.