David Schweidenback Pedals for Progress Social Entrepreneur

CNN Hero David Schweidenback, Founder of Pedals for Progress

Social entrepreneur David Schweidenback is the founder of Pedals for Progress, an NGO that collects used bicycles in the US, shipping them out to 38 developing countries.

In 25 years, they’ve delivered 147,830 bicycles around the world. This man is a CNN Hero, and his organization has been recognized by Forbes Magazine and the Skoll Foundation, among many others.

Show Links for David Schweidenback

Show Notes & Summary for David Schweidenback

  • Why so many bicycles get throw into the landfills
  • David Schweidenback’s first bicycle as a child
  • David Schweidenback’s experience with the Peace Corps in Ecuador
  • The most productive man David met in the Ecuadorian town
  • In the 1970s, very few people owned bicycles in Ecuador
  • Without wheels, a society cannot succeed in its modern sense
  • David’s life after the Peace Corps
  • David’s vision to ship 12 bicycles to Ecuador turned into 147,000+ bicycles
  • Speeding up the movement of goods and services is the key to economic growth
  • What David’s first collection drive looked like
  • Why the Ecuadorian consulate did not allow David to ship bicycles to Ecuador
  • One-country-itis
  • The first shipment of biycles was through a church group that was helping war-torn Nicaragua
  • Each container shipment can fit 500 bicycles
  • 25,000+ bicycles have been shipped to Rivas, Nicaragua
  • “I thought everything was going to be so simple.”
  • Some countries make it very difficult for bicycles to be imported, so David focuses his work where bicycles are welcomed
  • Very few countries manufacture bicycles, so importing used bicycles does not disrupt internal market
  • Imported bicycles are heavily taxed in certain countries
  • In many parts of eastern Europe, bicycles do not exist
  • David focuses on equity when it comes to distribution
  • Some institutions wanted to discriminate when it came to distribution
  • Pedals for Progress sells each bike for around $50-$60
  • Deciding prices is a complicated task based on the local market
  • David’s goal is to create a more vibrant economy. Giving goods out for free does not do that.
  • A documentary is coming out about Rivas, Nicaragua, now known as Bicycle City.
  • How the local shops that sell the bicycles break even and/or make a profit
  • What Pedals for Progress does with the super expensive racing bicycles
  • Payments in installments
  • The shops also repair the bicycles
  • They spend $7,000 to ship 500 bicycles, which usually results in $15,000-$20,000 in revenue at the shops
  • More than 70 organizations have used David’s business plan to ship used bicycles overseas
  • What makes the bicycle shop in Rivas more successful than the other shops
  • Many shops use their profit to benefit the community
  • What happened to the five containers of bicycles David shipped to Haiti
  • Why David was ashamed when he shipped a container to Ecuador
  • How Pedals for Progress shipped bicycles to El Progreso, Honduras
  • Pedals for Progress’s lean staff of three people
  • What the Pedals for Progress warehouse looks like
  • Why David collects $10 with each bicycle donated
  • Why the logistics of moving things overseas is incredibly frustrating
  • How Pedals for Progress gets testimonial stories from his partner shops overseas
  • Why Pedals for Progress is now shipping sewing machines
  • How David gets funding from the Clif Bar Foundation
  • How Pedals for Progress is building their mailing list
  • David needs to raise $250,000 each year
  • The part of the job that David enjoys most
  • Why Eastern Europe is so poor and without infrastructure
  • What life is like in Albania
  • A bike collection takes up about 3 hours
  • Why sewing machines are so useful in developing countries