Portal is an organization dedicated to fighting poverty. Founders Caleb and Emily Spear have spent their lives planning for, dreaming of, and dedicating themselves to serving the people of the developing world. In 2013, their dream became reality with the birth of Portal Bikes.
Portal Bikes was founded with the mission to help people turn bicycles into opportunities that create pathways out of poverty. We believe that all people are capable of being entrepreneurs; that a little bit of opportunity, a little bit of encouragement, and a little bit of guidance is all that is needed to help people transform their businesses, their families, and their communities.
In 2014, the Portal Cargo Bike and the bicycle power take off were introduced to the world. These machines have been designed, built, and tested in Nepal. It wasn’t long before Cargo Bikes were seen all around Kathmandu transporting supplies to children’s homes, taking kids to school, carrying painting and electrical supplies, and delivering various goods across town. All the while, the unlimited potential of the power take off was being tested in Nepal’s countryside using pedal power to shell corn, pump water, wash clothes, and grind grains.
On April 25, 2015 Nepal was devastated by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Nearly 9,000 people were killed, several hundreds of thousands displaced, and entire villages destroyed.
Being on the ground at the time, the Portal team didn’t hesitate to jump into action. During the initial aftermath, we were touched and proud to see our staff volunteer at hospitals, serve highly effected villages, dig through rubble, and use cargo bikes to deliver supplies to Kathmandu’s numerous makeshift tent cities.
In the days following the quake, Portal regrouped and tried to figure out a way to best serve the people who were affected by this tragedy. With hundreds of thousands homeless and and with the monsoon season drawing near, it became clear that one of the greatest needs was shelter. We combined advice from experienced friends with our knowledge of metal manufacturing in Kathmandu to develop the Portal Shelter. By leveraging our unique skills and our relationship with metal suppliers, we were able to parter with 137 organizations and individuals to provide simple, low-cost, easy to build, and reusable shelters to victims of the April 25th earthquake. During the following four months, 5,364 shelters were distributed to victims in over 40 villages and municipalities.
In the Autumn, after the monsoon rainstorms began to subside, we decided that it was time to shift our efforts away from a temporary focus towards a long term solution. This is when the Portal Prefab was born.
We went back to the drawing board, reworking our design and applying what we'd learned from the shelter project to build something more permanent. The Prefab designs have been carefully thought out, tested, perfected, and perfected some more. Beyond just providing shelter, Prefab structures can serve as schools, community centers, health clinics, and guesthouses - allowing entire towns to rebuild their infrastructure and sense of community. We hope Portal Prefab can make a small dent in the massive amount of rebuilding yet to be done. Through Portal Prefab and Portal Bikes, we're excited to serve the people of Nepal by providing shelter and economic empowerment.
Thanks for joining us.
Eli Kretzmann is the director of our Portal Prefab project. Eli has been living part time in Nepal for the past 5 years. A good friend of Portal, Eli was an integral part of the success of the shelter project. Eli brings a wealth of building, business, management, and cultural experience to the Prefab project and we are honored to have him as a member of the Portal family.
Eli also is the owner and operator of Over The Edge Travel, which specializes in creating incredible custom-built small group tours of India and Nepal. Check them out at overtheedgetravel.com.