Pedals For Progress win not-for-profit category in Worldaware Business Awards
In some countries the ownership of a bicycle, can make all the difference to the individual's chance of a successful life. Worldaware has selected Pedals for Progress as the winner in its Not-for-Profit category of its annual Business Awards.
The Worldaware Business Awards, now in their 14th year, recognise projects that have contributed to the development of poorer countries through innovative and sustainable commercial activities. The DTI Award is given to a private or public organisation working in the developing Commonwealth, which has enhanced its own or others' ability to participate in international trade.
Pedals for Progress (PfP) has perfected a system for collecting unwanted bicycles on the eastern seaboard of the United States and sending them to organisations worldwide which can repair and sell them. A Ghanaian, for example, can buy a repaired PfP bike for, on average, £15 - well below the cost of a new bike - and it will also be lighter and of higher quality.
When a carpenter and builder from New Jersey called David Schweidenback was a Peace Corps volunteer, he noticed that just about everyone in the town of Sucua, Ecuador had to walk; but the most successful local citizen, a carpenter, rode a bicycle - and that contributed to his success. In New Jersey years later David came across used and unwanted bicycles on their way to the rubbish tip. He mobilised local citizens to collect such bicycles and got them sent to poor people in Nicaragua.
In 1991 this informal effort, developed into a system, whereby volunteers from 125 Rotary clubs, churches and such like in New Jersey and around Philadelphia and Washington organise bicycle collections. People who give a bike also give ten dollars, to help cover handling. PfP also gets bikes from refuse collectors, and it gets parts from manufacturers. It assembles container loads of bikes and parts and sends them (this year) to Barbados, Colombia, Eritrea, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Moldova, Nicaragua, Panama and Pakistan. The cost works out at 28-30 dollars a bike. Over 60,000 have been sent.
Overseas community organisations get the bikes free but must pay for transport, after the first load. They also pay $1,500 a load of 400-450 bikes towards PfP's expenses. By repairing and selling a load of bikes, they raise the money for the next one. PfP needs to find each year at least two new customer organisations, able to repair and sell two container loads each, 900 bikes in all. Few countries are as welcoming as Ghana which lets bikes in tax-free. Some charge as much as 70 per cent import tax; others protect local makers by keeping out imports altogether.
In 2000 David Schweidenback won a Rolex Award for Enterprise but the unsung heroine of the story is David Schweidenback's wife, Dina Taiani, a university professor of mathematics, who has supported the family while David worked for PfP, first as a volunteer and later at a modest salary.
"Pedals for Progress is very excited to be receiving this award," said David Schweidenback. "The Award will help Pedals for Progress to expand on the number of people that know about our organization and may be interested in joining our team of volunteers to assist with hosting collections, thus helping us to receive more bikes to donate to our overseas programs. At the same time, being an award winner may help P4P to initiate new "clone" programs like ours in other countries. This would help use to achieve two of our objectives: 1) To foster environmentally sound transportation policies that encourage widespread use of bicycles worldwide and also 2) to reduce dramatically the volume of bicycles, parts, and accessories flowing to landfills."
For further information:
Pedals for Progress: AnnMarie Rolls + 1 908 638 4811
Worldaware: Helen Triggs 020 7603 8574 Sally Canty 02380 283255
Note to editors
Worldaware is a UK charity which aims to promote the widest understanding of global development issues, their importance and the interdependence of today's world.
The Worldaware Awards recognise both large and small businesses and institutions. They were established 14 years ago and have become a sought after source of recognition by companies, organisations and institutions involved in sustainable commercial and educational projects.