Baisikeli – Wheel by Wheel Towards Better Future
In Denmark, hundreds of thousands of bicycles are thrown away for scrap every year. In large parts of Mozambique there is a great need for cheap means of transport. Cousins Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Mortensen set out to do something about this when in 2003 they got the idea for Baisikeli. Baisikeli means bicycle in Swahili. Baisikeli is a social enterprise dedicated to improving the quality of life and making transportation easier and cheaper for the poorest people in the world.
The idea was simple: Baisikeli had to collect more than 400,000 bicycles that are thrown away in Denmark each year and send them to Mozambique, where they have to be repaired by a local bicycle workshop and sold at market price.
“Baisikeli is set in the world because we have seen with our own eyes what a bicycle can do for a human being. We have seen how a farmer can lift his family to a better life through increased mobility on a bicycle. We have also seen how a bicycle ambulance at a medical clinic in a small village can create medical care in up to 20 surrounding villages. So we have seen how bicycles can create a better life. Therefore, our purpose and vision is to make the bicycle accessible to the world’s poorest through the development of a sustainable, locally rooted bicycle industry.” – explained Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Mortensen, the founders of Baisikeli.
In 2007, Baisikeli sent the first consignment of bicycles to Mozambique. They realized that they needed more income if Baisikeli was to keep the wheels running without the aid of funds. So therefore they opened a bicycle workshop in Copenhagen, where they repaired and rented used bicycles for tourists, companies and exchange students. The workshop also served as the headquarters of the organization.
The increased turnover made it possible to increase activities in Mozambique. In 2010, Baisikeli started the first workshop in Mozambique where mechanics from the workshop in Denmark provided the day-to-day management and training of Mozambican colleagues. This is where the first generation of bike mechanics in Mozambique is trained. The goal is to do an education at the level of the Danish bicycle mechanics education, where the bicycle mechanics who have the right skills are offered to open their own Baisikeli store.
“Baisikeli’s definition of social innovation is to activate unused resources. We create the framework for utilizing these resources. Items that have little or no value in one place can have tremendous value elsewhere in the world. By moving, changing or adding resources, we activate something that would otherwise be wasted. In this way, we strive to make a difference for all the lives we are in contact with – and thereby make a difference in the world.” – conclude Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Mortensen