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…
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…