Imagine waking up in the morning, getting dressed before riding your bicycle to work, among hundreds of others who use bicycles as a main form of transport from one place to another, knowing you’ll be safe, yet save lots of time and effort stuck in Egypt’s non-stop traffic jams. This is the dream motivating Kareem Abdullah and Dirk Wanrooij in establishing their start-up “Ain Bicycles”.
It is a dream of a whole community of cyclists, less crowded and noise-polluted streets, a new and healthier generation and a brighter side of Egypt.
Ain Bicycles is a start-up aiming to create a healthier, easier and less expensive form of transportation, through designing special customised bicycles for each rider.
Riders get to decide every single detail of the bicycle to make sure they’re making their own set of wheels that no one else will ride, as everything is made according to their personal request. Riders can also choose from the start-up’s collection of sleek, practical designs.
After opening their own store in the Mohandessin area of Cairo, Abdullah and Wanrooij thought they should take further steps to achieve their dream of having bicycles as a serious form of transportation, for people to use in their everyday activities. That would be by opening new workshops for teaching people everything related to bicycles.
“The culture is spreading amongst people,” said Wanrooij. “It has become more frequent to see young people riding bicycles in the streets of Cairo. We just want to teach them how to deal with this.”
Launching a fundraising campaign to collect a specific amount of money to establish workshops to do so is what both partners started doing two weeks ago.
“We want to be more than just a bicycles shop!” Wanrooij insisted. “We plan to teach people everything they need to know about bicycles, starting from how to ride one, going up to what to do in case of accidents or traffic jam.”
The process of teaching also includes letting cyclists know how to repair their bicycles, and the ways of maintaining their safety whilst riding in streets full of cars like Cairo.
“People are just scared of being injured or not knowing what to do in case of emergencies,” he said. “What we plan to do is erase that fear through knowledge, to increase the cycling phenomenon in the streets, which would attract more people to the idea of creating a cyclers community in Egypt.”
People’s donations would be used in renting an appropriate and suitable place and buying the needed equipment that would be used for teaching them.
The donations are being collected through the Internet or as cash. Until now, Wanrooij and Abdullah have succeeded in collecting about $6,000, of the total $22,000 needed.
“We’re mainly using social media, trying to spread the idea as widely as possible,” Wanrooij said. “The generation we’re targeting can mostly be found through social networks. So we aim to reach them through videos explaining the idea and out target.”
Wanrooij believes that even the donation process is “a slow one”, yet the amounts of donations will increase by the time the campaign is about to end, as people “want to see the effectiveness of it”.
The founders chose to take the hard way instead of finding a financial sponsor, to prove that people’s interest comes first, “which is something no sponsor would prove”, according to Wanrooij.
Ain Bicycle’s custom-made products cost from EGP 1,250 to EGP 3,000, depending on the demands each person requires of his/her bicycle.
With only 60 people who have already donated, and only a month to go, Ain Bicycles are looking for whatever donations they can get, to achieve their big dream.
“We believe in the current generation, those who refuse to be dependent, stuck in a rush or even waste their time just waiting for the streets to be empty,” Wanrooij said with a smile.