Dear friends of Deghri,
The winter is almost over in Lebanon, and Deghri is looking forward to 2014, with some very promising developments to look forward to, as well as some challenges to overcome.
The political and economic situation in the country has a considerable impact on Deghri's work - January has witnessed a dramatic slow down in economic activity, and we notice this in the relatively empty streets in the usually bustling district of Hamra, where our office is based. Luckily, a lot of our customers are in the NGO sector, whose work never slows. Nevertheless, on the days when a new explosion hits the southern suburbs, the orders dry up completely as the city comes to a standstill.
Despite the difficult circumstances, Deghri is growing - revenue from the first two weeks of January was double the average from last autumn, and we are receiving around 8 orders every day. Our team has settled into a core of 4 messengers (myself included) working between 3 and 5 days a week and a further 4 complementing their work with a shift here and there when needed.
A fantastic boost came at the beginning of January in the form of a Bullitt cargo bike, donated by the Danish embassy - it fits perfectly into their mandate to promote Danish industry and Denmark's vibrant bicycle culture. The picture shows some of the team putting the bike together. This machine carries up to 60kg of cargo, and opens up many possibilities: we have started a collaboration with Souk el Tayeb, the upmarket farmer's market, to encourage market-goers to leave their car at home, come by bike or on foot, and send their groceries home with us.
Finally, Deghri is organising, along with the Danish embassy and a local design bureau, Lebanon's first bike festival. This will take place between the 21st and 27th of April, and entails plenty of work for an event that promises to be a milestone in the evolution of bicycle culture in the country. If anyone is thinking about a trip to Lebanon this year, make it during this week - the weather should be glorious.
Thanks for reading!