Bikes for the World

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Different Kind of Charity Ride

Yvette Hess with FreeBike co-founder Johan Bender
Bikes for the World has a new partner in Southern California. It's a unique partner for BfW since it's sort of a bike rental company for college students. But not really. First of all, it's FREE. And these students aren't your average bike riders.

The FreeBike Project offers free wheels to students, traveling 'billboards' for local businesses, and a 'vehicle' for change to students abroad. Let me break that down.

The pilot project began on the campus of the University of Southern California. Co-founders Johan Bender and Kim Sanderhoff thought up this unique bike leasing project that pairs students with businesses. Students get the use of a bike for the semester and businesses get seen around town, on facebook, twitter,'re getting the idea.

Here's the bike. Looks a bit like it might have come from the streets of Copenhagen? Well, they do know bikes there. And Bender and Sanderhoff have Denmark roots and designed the bike themselves.

Each bike comes with a marketing placard in the main triangle of the bike. Businesses who sign on with FreeBike Project may get 3 or 300 bikes depending on their size. (They don't have any 300 sized clients...yet). The marketing campaign lasts the entire semester where the bike may be seen in person on campus, cruising nearby streets, or in student fired social media blasts.

Seen on USC campus with Johan and Kim
Students sign up, pay a 'holding fee' or 'security deposit', and get a bike to use all semester. The guys offer free maintenance and tons of incentives for posting the coolest pictures with the bikes.

It gives students a pair of wheels to get around campus and a unique way of supporting their favorite businesses. It also gives them a creative outlet to explore and define the future of online a desired demographic the 18-25 age range. It's a great idea, right?

But wait! There's MORE. At the end of the semester they return the bike, get their money back, AND in turn send a bike to our Bikes for the Philippines project. That's exactly right, each FreeBike rider represents a new student rider in Bohol. How cool is that? Students love it, on both sides of the globe.

The FreeBike Project donates the cost of shipping one bike to Bikes for the World earmarked for Bikes for the Philippines for every single rider they have. At the end of this semester, that was 90 riders. And the riders (and businesses) take pride in the (little) effort it took to provide this ride to a student overseas, giving him or her the means to stay enrolled in school and graduate. Ride to class...change a life. That was easy.

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