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Dan Austin Stands Up for Cycling in the Developing World
Social Entrepreneur | November 03, 2011

Dan Austin Stands Up for Cycling in the Developing World

Dan Austin—founder of 88 Bikes, the social enterprise that gives bicycles to impoverished youth around the globe—delivered an outstanding speech to students at St. Augustine last week. By outstanding we mean he was literally out standing in front of the students, just one day after tearing his Achilles tendon while playing basketball with the school team! (He finished his talk, with no visible drop-off in energy, and then checked himself into a hospital for emergency surgery!)

Despite the pain, Austin shared the uplifting tale of 88 Bikes, while encouraging students to seek out their own projects. The name 88 Bikes was inspired by the organization's first project, in which money was raised to purchase 88 bicycles for 88 children at an orphanage in Cambodia. ($88 is also the average cost to build a bicycle in a developing country). Austin's model, though, isn't just about giving away bicycles. It's also about contributing to local economies. Every bicycle is purchased locally, and any labor for transportation, assembly, or assistance is hired locally. In this way, Austin’s social entrepreneurism radiates outward, past the immediate group of children who receive bikes, and into their communities.

Recently, Austin extended his work into the United States, opening the first sustainable 88bikeshop on the Navajo Nation in the Desert Southwest. There, young people learn how to care for and repair their locally purchased bicycles in a shop constructed entirely out of locally-foraged materials, like the hoods of junked -cars. Austin is also an accomplished filmmaker, best known for his documentary True Fans, which chronicled his bike journey across America with his brother and his best friend.
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