Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bicycles for Africa

Got an old bicycle in your garage that you don’t know what to do with? Send it to Bern, where it will be restored and shipped to Africa so people living in rural areas can cycle to work. That’s what Paolo Richter does. His company, Gump-& Drahtesel hires unemployed individuals to recycle old bicycles for Africa, while helping them get back into the labor force in Switzerland.

Hundreds of jobless people work in Richter’s bicycle and wood workshops, where they learn to be mechanics or sales people, and receive professional and personal training to reenter the job market. Over 7,000 repaired bikes are sent to Africa each year. Gump-& Drahtesel also makes lamps, jewellery and decorative items from spare bicycle parts, which are then sold in Bern to support the company’s African project, while giving unemployed individuals work experience.

What a great idea: employing people who need work, training them in new skills while providing a product that offers greater mobility to people who need transportation to get to work.