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Exporting Danish cycling culture to Africa

The Baisikeli bicycle shop is the result of the work of two cousins to improve life for some of the world’s poorest people. The business started by sending second-hand bicycles from Denmark to Mozambique, and now the cousins want to set up independent bicycle shops in Africa.
Baisikeli is helping to build a bicycle industry in Mozambique using second-hand bicycles from Denmark. Photo: Joshua Gross

Publiceret: 12.08.2016
Af Mia Sanberg Svenningsen mail

At first glance, Baisikeli in the area of Vesterbro in Copenhagen looks like a traditional bicycle shop. But the company’s business plan reaches far beyond Denmark’s borders and bicycle hire and repair is far from the only services offered by the company.

Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Smedegaard Mortensen, the company’s two founders, want to launch local production of bicycles in Africa.

Baisikeli currently earns its money from repairing second-hand bicycles donated by insurance companies and renting them out to everyone from students to tourists. The company spends its profits – on a turnover of about DKK 9 million per annum – on sending some of these bicycles to Beira in Mozambique where Baisikeli has its second workshop and its African staff.

Here the bicycles are repaired and sold on to locals. Until now, the duo have invested in training costing more than half a million Danish kroner for each African employee. But much more is on the way, says Niels Bonefeld.

Where will Baisikeli be in five years’ time?
- We will continue to repair and rent out second-hand bicycles in Denmark because this is where our knowledge and financing comes from, but we don’t want to grow in Denmark. Our aim is for our workshop in Mozambique to produce bicycles from scratch and sell them both locally and internationally and export them back to our franchise outlets.

- In five years’ time we will hopefully also have set up Africa’s largest bicycle mechanic training scheme which will be able to pass on the knowledge we have acquired in Denmark. In the near future, our business in Copenhagen will expand to include a production and packing facility and we hope that Baisikeli will be able to enter other markets across the world.

What will be your biggest challenges in reaching that point?
- Our retail business has to develop a product that is strong enough to become a franchise in Africa and in the West. But this requires that we are able to procure bicycle parts cheaply from Taiwan, for example, which we then send to the workshop in Mozambique and other future facilities to enable them to manufacture bicycles from scratch. But we are a small business and we purchase such small amounts that we cannot achieve the same discounts as major Danish purchasers. That is a problem because it means that our products will be too expensive for our customers in Africa.

Why are you a member of the Confederation of Danish Industry?
- We have set a new standard for conducting business in Africa by training our staff and we will be introducing the first bicycle mechanic training scheme in Mozambique which we are currently negotiating with Mozambique’s Ministry of Education. The Confederation of Danish Industry helped us to launch that process.

- The Confederation of Danish Industry has introduced us to the right people and has facilitated large parts of our African business plan and has helped us establish the basis for our business’s growth in Africa. We also have confidence in the fact that the Confederation of Danish Industry possesses the skills required to meet our challenges. Especially over the next two and a half years when we will be getting our local production in Africa up and running.
This is how Baisikeli do it
Baisikeli collect second-hand bicycles from the Tryg, GF Forsikring, Alm. Brand, LB and Codan insurance companies and left luggage bicycles from the police and send them to Mozambique where they are repaired and sold.

These costs are covered by a bicycle workshop in Copenhagen which also repairs and rents out second-hand bicycles to tourists, businesses and exchange students.

Baisikeli’s Danish staff travel to Mozambique up to four times a year to train their African colleagues in the production of bicycle frames to enable them to manufacture bicycles from scratch and export them to Denmark.

In Beira in Mozambique, Baisikeli run both a shop and bicycle production facility at the local technical college and train bicycle mechanics on the Danish model. The training scheme has, however, not yet been officially certified which is why all their employees have so far only completed a practical apprenticeship, but have not yet attended college.

Baisikeli have plans to make the business into a franchise selling skills to local bicycle mechanics.
Baisikeli A/S
’Baisikeli’ means ’bicycle’ in Swahili
Founded in 2007 by cousins Niels Bonefeld and Henrik Smedegaard Mortensen
Number of employees in Denmark: 15
Number of employees in Mozambique: 9
Number of bicycles sent to Mozambique in 2015: 1,600
Turnover in Mozambique in 2015: DKK 518,702
Turnover in Denmark in 2015: DKK 9,256,755
- In five years’ time we will hopefully also have set up Africa’s largest bicycle mechanic training scheme
FOUNDER NIELS BONEFELD, BAISIKELI
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PUBLISHED: 8/12/2016 LAST MODIFIED: 2/4/2017