Bikeworks, based in the resource-deprived area of East London, is a social enterprise and community center that goes beyond the bikes. As such, Bikeworks is a trailblazer in the realm of social business in the United Kingdom, having won two London Business Awards, firstly in 2009 for best environmental business and then in 2010 for the London Business Awards' first social enterprise category.
With that being said, Bikeworks is more than just titles and image. Its social initiatives are extensive -- and extensively inspiring. Some of the services that Bikeworks offers include: All Ability Rental, Cycle Training and Assertive Cycling Courses, Cycling for Health, Cycle Maintenance Courses, Bike Recycling, Bicycle Sales and Repairs, Work and Volunteer Opportunities and Business Travel Planning. Through its Bike Reuse program, Bikeworks creates training and job opportunities for communities typically excluded from the job and labor markets.
The featured video highlights the Bikeworks all-ability cycling program that fosters self-confidence in cycling for people with physical and learning disabilities. By incorporating a variety of bike models, everyone is able to feel comfortable while learning to cycle and getting some much needed social interaction, fresh air and exercise. For some, by being out of their wheelchair, cyclers at the All Ability Club are able to feel more in control over their own bodies and movements while at the same time working on their motor and coordination skills.
With all that good, you may be wondering, how does Bikeworks sustain itself financially? Income is sourced from a myriad of clients by offering various cycle-centric services to third sector organizations, corporates and local authorities; selling upcycled bicycles to the public; and offering maintenance and repair services for the public.
What’s so exciting about Bikeworks, as a social enterprise and a community center, is its ability to create “local solutions to global issues through the promotion of sustainable urban transport with cycling,” as stated on the Bikeworks website. By focusing on what we know like our backyard (because the local is our backyard) we are able to create custom solutions to the marginalization that we see and perhaps experience in our own communities.
Using bikes as a tool, Bikeworks tackles the social, environmental and economic problems in London. Hopefully, Bikeworks has created a replicable social business model that will continue to pop up around the world while staying true to the people that matter most -- its local residents.
Unit 8 Gun Wharf (until August 2011)
241 Old Ford Rd