The ethos behind our work is sustainability. Re~Cycle works in partnership with six organisations across seven different African countries, each one doing something inspiring and empowering with the bicycles we send them. All own and run bike social enterprises - this ensures that the bikes we provide can be repaired, distributed and maintained for a long time to come.
Each month we send our partners bikes, spare parts and tools (for free) that can be sold for a fraction of market value via their bicycle social enterprise. Working in this way generates multiple outcomes:
- Affordable transport for the local community: New bike owner can access quality, affordable bikes and on-going repair services.
- Sustainable income: Our partners use the income from their bike social enterprises to fund work to help their beneficiaries.
- Local employment and skill development: Each partner employs local bike mechanics, some of which Re~Cycle has helped train.
- Capital to pay for the shipping of the next container of bikes: our partners are responsible for the shipping costs and onwards transport – an expense which can run into several thousand pounds depending on where they are located. As a result, all of our partners sell a number of the bicycles they receive to recover their investment and raise money to fund projects, buy materials and pay their local staff.
Re~Cycle supports this model of social-entrepreneurship, using a business model to achieve a charitable income.
It's a hand up not a hand-out
Not only are things that are given away not valued, but gifting bicycles in large numbers harms local vendors, who cannot compete with free bikes. Working with the existing market networks allows our partners to both realise the true value of the bicycles they receive and distribute them further and more quickly.
We are sure that to see the bicycle population grow in each country we partner with; we should work with these markets, rather than against them. They are our best chance of increasing long-term popularity, sustainability and desirability of bicycle ownership and use in Africa.