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The Cycle of Life

Copenhagen to Africa

Images of quaint rainbow houses and glistening waterways have become synonymous with this centuries old merchant city. 

Renowned for its welcoming atmosphere and effortlessly chic residents, Copenhagen is an easy getaway for those seeking continentalism and Hygge.

Yet rather than join the swarm of tourists ambling aimlessly along the cycle lanes, you could become part of a journey from Copenhagen to Africa.

Sure, you may have your own bike, but if you find yourself in the city without it there’s no better place to rent than Baisikeli. Swahili for bicycle, the Baisikeli project ships used bikes to Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Ghana so they can be converted into cargo bikes for agricultural and medical workers in need of transportation.

For 80 Krone (about 9 GBP/11USD) you can rent a second hand bike for 24 hours, safe in the knowledge that your money is going to a good cause.

As the centre of Europe’s cycling culture and with cycling forming a primary mode of transport in Copenhagen, it is estimated that approximately 400,000 bikes are scrapped each year across Denmark.

Rather than see these bikes go to waste, Baisikeli founders Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Smedegaard Mortensen decided to begin a social enterprise to facilitate development in a number of African communities. Yet rather than adhering to old-fashioned notions of aid giving, Baisikeli is part of a new wave of initiatives that put agency and progress firmly in the hands of local communities and individuals.

Through the money raised from bike rentals in Copenhagen, Baisikeli is able to fund a number of workshops that employ local engineers and mechanics to renovate the bikes shipped out from Denmark, before they are sold on to the local population.

These bikes are often used to perform simple tasks but can be transformational to an individual, for example as a form of cheap and easy transportation that enables children living in rural communities to shorten their journey to school.

In truly cyclical fashion, many of these bikes are converted into cargo bikes to be used as ambulances, or as means to transport goods and produce for traders and local entrepreneurs.

Given that Copenhagen is hailed as the birthplace of the cargo bike, and that it can still be seen as a popular method of transportation in the city today, there is something wholesome about the idea that this simple yet effective innovation is now serving communities outside of its home city.

For a sneak peak of the cycling along the streets of Copenhagen, Baisikeli’s endearingly homemade video gives a brief insight into the ethos behind the enterprise, with Henrik’s YouTube channel showing what impact the initiative can have when it reaches its destination.

If you find yourself in Copenhagen looking to make your escape, Baisikeli is the perfect hub to begin your journey, and a chance to make a small contribution to something bigger.

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