In 1987, at 23, FK Day co-founded what would become one of the largest bicycle parts companies in the world, SRAM. Last year, they had over $500 million in revenue.
In 2005, he began building his next venture: a social enterprise that sells (and gives) bicycles to folks in Africa. In 5 years, he estimates, they could be looking at giving and selling, collectively, 1,000,000 bicycles on the continent.
Unlike other philanthropists, Day wants to make World Bicycle Relief, the non-profit, completely self- sustainable. What does that mean?
“There’s no reason we should have to be fundraising in the future,” he says in a phone interview from Chicago where SRAM is headquartered. He wants the for-profit arm, or the the social enterprise, to finance World Bicycle Relief’s non-profit projects.
In the social sector, there has been an intense debate (and divide) between for-profit and nonprofit ventures. The former come with revenue streams; the latter rely on fundraising. Both parties are quite passionate about which one is the ‘right’ way to go.
World Bicycle Relief presents a hybrid approach– selling bicycles to co-ops and individuals, which can help the finance charitable programs for school kids and healthcare needs.
Currently, the organization is donating and selling about 300,000 bicycles, cumulatively. But in five years, that could be closer to a million, Day says.
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