What happens when you combine cycling, business and helping others?

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otntvEe8wS0&width=600&height=350[/embedyt] Atma Cycles is an Australian not-for-profit, who for every bike sold donates one to a schoolgirl in India to enable her to get to and from school and continue her education. Atma is the Hindi word for ‘soul’ and Atma Cycles believe that “every bicycle we sell comes with a soul of its own, and every soul has a soul mate”. Essentially, every Atma bicycle sold “has a soul mate that is helping someone somewhere in the world”.

A desire to do something better

“The story behind Atma comes from a joining of three passions of mine: Cycling, business and helping others,” says Alex Carpenter, founder and self-described ‘chief cycle giver’ of Atma Cycles.

Carpenter says the question ‘why?’ was one that haunted him ever since he studied commerce (majoring in accounting) at university. In a blog he wrote on the subject, he notes his constant desire to do more with his life than simply pursuing money: “Was money it? The ‘be all and end all’ of all major life decisions? Why am I trying so hard to earn more money when I know more money is not going to make me any happier? Why am I trying to grow this business when the best outcome I could possibly achieve is that I make more money?”

He surmises: “Basically after years in for-profit business I felt unfulfilled and wanted to do something that helps others rather than just chasing more money for money's sake.” From which Atma Cycles was launched.

A model made for giving

“Our business model includes two not-for-profits: The first is Atma Cycles Limited which makes and sells the bikes here in Australia and then we have Atma Cycles Foundation which does the bike giveaways in India,” says Carpenter of Atma Cycles’ business model.

“The reason for this is we wanted to create a way for people to support the cause where 100% of their donations would go to the cause. But on top of this it makes a clear distinction between the cash for operations and the cash for the social purpose.”

No wages, bills or expenses are drawn from the Atma Cycles Foundation as they are paid for by Atma Cycles – so every dollar donated goes towards buying bicycles.

Helping causes you care about

Inspired? Carpenter offers these words of wisdom to those looking to help causes they care about: “My advice to people is to get involved but start small and grow from there. Just going to an event and talking to the different people there you quickly learn how you fit in and how you can best help. On top of this we heavily rely on word of mouth. Our lack of traditional advertising budget is actually where the funds for the bicycle giveaway comes from but in order for this to work we need people to actively tell people about us and I know a lot of NFPs and social enterprises are in the same boat. So tell as many people as you can, it really does help.”

People showing their support for Atma Cycles is something Carpenter himself rates as a highlight: “My favourite moment is actually every time someone signs up to our mailing list, I get a notification when they do and it reminds me that people believe what we believe and that people are out there supporting our mission.”

Learn more about Atma Cycles and the Atma Cycles Foundation.

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