US teacher and carpenter, David Schweidenback was last night named as one of five Laureates in the 2000 Rolex Awards for Enterprise at a ceremony in New York. He received the Award in recognition of his work to recover used bicycles in the United States which are later shipped out to developing countries, providing affordable transportation and stimulating sustainable economic growth.
His organisation Pedals for Progress has so far shipped out 34 000 bicycles to 21 countries.
Merlin Matthews of Essex-based charity Re-Cycle has so far shipped out 3500 and is seeking to emulate the success of Schweidenback.
He does some amazing work, Matthews told BikeBiz this morning. He has excellent relationships with US bike companies, which is something were seeking to achieve in the UK.
Like Re-Cycle, Pedals for Progress accepts returns, end-of-lines and cost price bikes from suppliers, and then sends them overseas where they can have an immense impact on the local economies of the countries where they end up.
Bicycles stimulate job opportunities, allow quicker access to market for entrepreneurs, provide income parity for women who can now cycle to work, have a positive impact on the environment and allow access to greater earnings potential. Estimates suggest that the income of each person receiving one of the bicycles has risen by 14 percent.
In addition to these immediate improvements, the proceeds from bicycle sales are also funding community projects such as improving water supplies, building health centres, and renovating schools.
Schweidenback was one of five candidates selected from 2005 applicants from 124 countries. Laureates-to-be have to demonstrate their determination to implement ground-breaking initiatives in the areas of science and medicine; technology and innovation; exploration and discovery; the environment; or cultural heritage.
Rolex initiated the Awards programme in 1976 to provide ethical entrepreneurs worldwide with the financial support and recognition they need to carry out innovative projects. This year, the company awarded a total of a half million dollars to 10 such individuals.
Re-cycle would like to hear from any bike trade companies with bikes they would like to either donate or sell at cost. The charity would also be pleased to receive cash donations, which would go towards shipping costs. Spare office equipment always comes in handy (a new Liverpool office is opening soon) and Merlin Matthews says anybody who can donate their promotional or strategic planning skills would also be welcome.
Tel: 01206 382207