WA Bike Culture ‘Dismantled’
17 April 2013 at 10:54 am
For a brother and sister team who established a bicycle focussed social business in Fremantle, creating a ‘mentality shift’ among West Australians to embrace the concept of paying for the service was their biggest challenge. The Spotlight on Social Enterprise this edition is “Dismantle”‘.
“Until 12 months ago social enterprise was a foreign concept in Western Australia.”
For the brother and sister duo who established a bicycle focussed social business in Fremantle, creating a ‘mentality shift’ among West Australians to embrace the concept of paying for a service was the biggest challenge in the creation of a bicycle focussed social enterprise.
“The challenge was to convince people to understand this model,” co-founder Lachie Ritchie says.
“There was a mindset change for people to understand that profit for a purpose was better than just making a profit.”
After returning from international travels, 26 year-old Lachie Ritchie with his sister Bridie came to the realisation that a simple bicycle had the ability to “make a positive change”.
The pair believes that bicycles can act as a catalyst for positive lifestyle change in individuals, and that this change has a flow on effect that can benefit the wider community. Establishing ‘Dismantle’ as a social enterprise, the organisation focuses on three different initiatives:
A community bicycle recycling workshop in central Fremantle to promote bike culture andA 10-week Bike Rescue Project works with seriously disadvantaged youth, many of whom have dropped out of school and are at-risk of homelessness. The program teaches them to fix up and restore old broken down bicycles. They keep one for themselves and donate one to a local charity.
recycling. An annual membership fee allows to participants to use the shared space to maintain their bicycle and socialise with fellow residents who share similar interests.
“Our philosophy is ‘teaching people how to do things themselves.” Ritchie says.
“You can’t pay for people to work on your bike for you.You have to do stuff for yourself.”
Dismantle also runs a range of corporate bicycle wellness programs to encourage and educate corporate office workers to ride to work, as well as offering corporate employees the opportunity for charitable work through maintenance courses and volunteering opportunities.
“It’s good for the community and good for the company,” he says.
“We are so isolated in cities with urban sprawl. Bikes re-connect us”.
Ritchie describes Dismantle as a ‘hybrid’ social enterprise model at the moment.
“We have 50% self generated income and 50% comes from grants and sponsorship,” he says.
“We are working towards a point where we will be self sufficient – in three to five years time hope to be independent.”
Measuring the impact that the company has on the Perth community is important to the young team and they have consultants assess this for them to see where they can improve.
“We are keen to improve,” Ritchie says explaining that if they discover that what they are doing could be done in another more effective way it’s better to find out now and improve rather than waste 10 years on a program that is not achieving its full potential.
“What's the point in running a business if there is no impact?”
“We have a strong focus on measuring and advancing impact and we let our that speak for itself,” he says, referring to their annual report they make available on their website for their stakeholders and the public.
The hybrid social enterprise has plans of expanding into regional and rural areas of Western Australia to assist disadvantaged kids living outside the city.
“We have requests for programs from indigenous communities in WA,” Ritchie says. “It will be a huge step for us.
“Getting it right is massively important for us so we’re slowly ease into these communities and we’ll see how it goes.
Ritchie says that the company will only go into a community if there is a request and a demand for their services.
“We’re not going to force ourselves.”