Innovation That Matters

Prisoners refurbish bikes to help fund community projects in Malawi

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Elephant Bikes are old Royal Mail bikes refurbished by prisoners in the UK and locals in Malawi, which raise money for vital services.


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The most effective charities make a difference at every stage of their work, rather than simply providing a group of people with something they need. Elephant Bikes does just that: the UK-based social enterprise is currently saving 20,000 old Royal Mail bikes from landfill and using them to raise money for vital services in one of the world’s poorest communities in Malawi, via the Krisavec Project. In the UK, the bikes are being refurbished by offenders at a local prison, while in Africa, local people are taught to repair and service the donated bikes, providing valuable skills and experience for both sets of people.

Every limited edition refurbished bike sold in the UK raises enough money to ship another bike to the Chilomoni Township in Malawi. The bikes are then sold to Malawians so they can transport goods to market, and travel to work, school or college. They are even used by fence wardens at Liwonde National Park to help them patrol more efficiently — this is where the name Elephant Bikes came from. The Krisavec Project has already helped raise funds for a children’s centre, a primary school and an IT training academy.



The Limited Edition Elephant Bike is currently for sale in the UK for GBP 250 in various colours. Could this scheme be replicated elsewhere?



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