Ride a bike that ben­e­fits both the en­vi­ron­ment and less for­tu­nate fam­i­lies

Dubai-based so­cial en­ter­prise Char­i­cy­cles gives a new lease of life to bikes des­tined for land­fill – and gifts them to chil­dren in refugee camps too…

Good (UAE) - - THE GOOD LIFE - Char­i­cy­cles.com

When Pales­tinian-Cana­dian sis­ters Zaina and Ra­nia Kanaan be­came frus­trated at the amount of waste their house­holds were pro­duc­ing, they started look­ing for a way to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly busi­ness. But it was their love for cycling that even­tu­ally pro­vided their in­spi­ra­tion, lead­ing to the birth in 2014 of their so­cial en­ter­prise, Char­i­cy­cles.

“We grew up on bi­cy­cles,” they ex­plain. “Cycling is good for your health, the en­vi­ron­ment, and reaps fi­nan­cial gains for the econ­omy. We’ve al­ways been pas­sion­ate about spread­ing good­ness through re­tail too, and our frus­tra­tion with the amount of an­nual waste re­sult­ing from our over-con­sump­tion led us to build Char­i­cy­cles.”

In a nut­shell, the busi­ness digs bike frames out of land­fill, or saves them on route to the rub­bish heap, and gives them a new lease of life. The pair take on all chal­lenges, from re­mov­ing rust and re­pair­ing bro­ken parts to car­ry­ing out be­spoke paint jobs, with makeovers cost­ing from Dhs600 and com­pleted bikes re­tail­ing from Dhs1,200. Ad­di­tion­ally, for ev­ery five sold, an ad­di­tional bike is do­nated to a child in a re­gional refugee camp “to fa­cil­i­tate an eas­ier com­mute to school and to give them back a piece of their lost child­hood”.

“The camps we work with change ev­ery year to spread as much im­pact as pos­si­ble”, Zaina ex­plains, with bikes pre­vi­ously wing­ing their way as far afield as oc­cu­pied Pales­tine, the bor­der re­gions of both Syria and Jor­dan and, most re­cently, Le­banon. “Most kids who drop out of school on these camps do so due to the school be­ing far away, or the dif­fi­culty of mobility in the win­ter months. Fur­ther­more, ev­ery time we asked the kids we worked with what they wanted for their birth­day, the an­swer was al­most al­ways a bi­cy­cle.”

With the pair hav­ing re­cently been short­listed for drinks firm Chivas’ an­nual The Ven­ture so­cial en­ter­prise ini­tia­tive, which seeks to sup­port char­i­ta­bly-minded start ups, a surge in in­ter­est means they’re now do­ing a roar­ing trade both on­line and at Dubai’s nu­mer­ous mar­kets – so that’s a few more birth­day wishes look­ing to be an­swered this year…

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