How World Bicycle Relief Plans On Funding A Million Bicycles In Africa

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.


FK Day (left) on a field visit.  Photo Courtesy of World Bicycle Relief.

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.


A farmer transport milk via bicycle — one of World Bicycle Relief’s programs to help dairy co-ops move more efficiently.  Photo Courtesy of World Bicycle Relief.

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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