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The Power of Social Enterprise: Light Gives Heat

Corey Collier and Lara Kroepsch both fell in love with cycling while students at the University of Colorado. After successful careers as professional cyclists, they were struck by the power of the bicycle; its ability to open doors, create community, and empower individuals. While brainstorming ways in which to give back by connecting to a sport that had deepened their lives greatly, a unique opportunity emerged.

Passionate about a hometown not for profit, Light Gives Heat (LGH), Corey and Lara saw the chance to contribute by providing World Bicycle Relief bicycles to aid the organization’s efforts. LGH was founded in 2007 by Dave and Morgan Hansow after a lengthy adoption process to bring home their child from Uganda was delayed. Taking a leap of faith, Dave and Morgan left everything behind in Colorado, moving to Uganda to complete the adoption of their second child as well as create a non-profit to meet the real needs of the Ugandan people. They began the SUBBI (hope) project offering displaced women from war-torn Northern Uganda the opportunity to earn a consistent income through the sale of colorful handmade paper jewelry, clothing, and bags.

Light Gives Heat empowers Africans through the encouragement of economic sustainability and creative endeavors, now employing over 115 women in Uganda.

 

World Bicycle Relief (WBR), founded by SRAM Corporation in 2005 and supported by leaders in the bicycle industry, provides specifically designed and culturally appropriate bicycles into rural Africa. Managing the supply chain of their robust bicycles from start to finish, WBR provides access to independence and livelihood through the power of bicycles and has distributed over 90,000 bicycles to date. Currently funding the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP), a 50,000 bicycle distribution to students (70% girl students) in rural Zambia, WBR supplies their bicycle to other NGO organizations looking to break transportation barriers within their own development projects.

Organizations such as the UN World Food Programme, CARE, Wellshare International, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Qhubeka have purchased bicycles through social enterprise sales, expanding the reach of WBR into sub-Saharan African countries of Tanzania, Uganda, Southern Sudan, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Malawi. A natural fit with a common cause, Corey and Lara brought these two outstanding groups together with the goal of providing WBR bikes to the women of LGH.

Through a combination of micro financing, product sales, and generous donations, Corey and Lara hope to raise money to provide women at LGH with WBR bikes. Lara, now a student at Yale University, spent the last month working at Uganda’s largest hospital and on October 1st, visited the LGH headquarters in Jinja, Uganda to participate in a bicycle demo day lead by a WBR mechanic.

Over 60 LGH women attended the demo day to ride the program’s first 3 bikes. The day resulted in over 90 women signing up to receive bicycles via a micro-finance model where Corey and Lara will fundraise half of the cost, and the women themselves pay for the second half with monthly pay check deductions coming from their LGH salaries. The women plan to use their bicycles to commute to work, help their children get to school, as well as use the bicycle as a business tool to generate more income for their families.