Displaying items by tag: international women's day

 

iwd-spedal-472

In part two of our International Women’s Day interview series with female-founded cargo bike operator companies, we spoke with Monica Pun, Co-Founder of Spedal. Based in East London, Spedal is a same-day delivery and recycling pick-up service working with small businesses and retailers. Built on the foundation of social impact, Spedal is a logistics firm on a mission to improve our environment and help people get into employment.

 

Who are Spedal and what do you do?

To put it really simply, we’re a same-day zero-emission cycle courier service with a focus on helping those who are homeless break into the workforce. Our whole ethos is based on social impact, to improve our environment, make business more human, and to help people get back into work.

We largely do deliveries for zero-waste shops and pick up empty containers and bottles that get sterilised and reused again. A lot of our customers found it difficult working with large couriers for deliveries and they weren’t willing to do smaller quantity pick-ups.

 

Where did the idea come from to start Spedal?

I was volunteering at a soup kitchen in Bethnal Green during the pandemic. I found that many of the young people coming in had so much drive and willingness to work but they didn’t know how to get started.

I found that the main reasons many were unemployed was because they lacked confidence, experience, and a lot of employers aren’t close enough or accommodating to suit their needs, such as going back to the hostel for meal times or attending regular medical appointments. This is where working as a delivery courier can help; you get flexible schedules, you don’t need a licence and you don’t need much experience. Some hostels even have space to store bikes.

When we hire someone from a disadvantaged background, we ‘buddy’ them up with a more experienced rider to train them and help them learn everything they need to know to do their job well. Around 20 per cent of our workforce are people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

 

What makes Spedal different?

As well as our social impact ethos, we’re trying to make the delivery and pick-up process really simple. We work with a lot of small business owners and they don’t want complicated or overly flashy apps or processes. To book with us, all you have to do is input your delivery details on your personalised Spedal portal and that’s it!

We also want to bring human connection back into the industry. We speak with our clients, including future clients, to get to know them and their stories.

 

There aren't many female riders in the industry, why do you think that is and what can be done about it?

There are a lot of reasons, but I think for many women it’s about safety and perhaps not feeling confident enough cycling on the road. A lot of women love the outdoors, but jobs in this area are typically male dominated and I think this plays into the idea that outdoor jobs are just for men. That's simply not true.

For us, we want to change this by looking closely at how we talk about our business. For example, making sure we’re inclusive, in our language and how we recruit riders. As we grow, we want to build cycle hubs that have facilities for both men and women as often this can be forgotten.

 

What advice would you give to women who want to join the industry but are unsure because it's quite male dominated?

If you’re not sure, come and speak with me and the Spedal team. We can give you honest advice to help you understand what deliveries and pick-ups really entail, as well as what it’s like being out on the road. You can always have assumptions but until you try it, or shadow a rider for a day you won’t know the real deal.

 

What advice would you give to businesses that are hesitant to use a cargo bike operator?

If you’re concerned about costs, you can get subsidies for deliveries through Bikes for Business. But if you’re unsure about the service or what cargo bikes can carry, then come and talk to us. Ask questions and share your concerns, we don’t want to interrupt how you do things. There are a lot of services available, but they need to fit in-line with what you do and need.

If you’re looking for a lasting impression for your business, cargo bikes are brilliant for that. And although cargo bikes are becoming increasingly popular, people still don’t expect a cargo bike to turn up to their front door or business!

Published in Blog

 

iwd-ecofleet-472

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke with two female cargo bike operator business owners to find out more about women in the sustainable transport and delivery industry. These industries are typically very male-dominated and as part of this year’s theme of #BreakTheBias, we wanted to showcase businesses who do just that.

In part one of our two-part series, we met with Farah Asemi, Founder and CEO of ecofleet, a London-based logistics company who focus on deliveries within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

 

How did you get started in the industry?

Before I started ecofleet, I had never worked in sustainable transport! I used to work as an interior architect and property developer and one day in 2018, as I was trying to travel across London, I thought that there must be a better way of getting around a congested city without polluting the air and getting in a car. Soon after, I came across my first cargo bike and thought that this could be the solution!

I founded ecofleet in 2019 and back then, people used to stop and stare - people weren’t used to seeing cargo bikes! Nowadays more and more businesses and individuals want to use the service as it beats the traffic. Equally, we come across individuals and businesses who well and truly care about their carbon footprint.

 

What does ecofleet do?

Up until February of this year, we operated from Battersea, but have now relocated to Chiswick. We also shifted our focus from all types to solely deliveries for the healthcare industry. For example, we deliver test kits, medication from pharmacies to their clients and medical supplies. We had our first experience in the medical industry through our work with Cross River Partnership, which gave us the opportunity to deliver items for pharmacies and start doing NHS deliveries. When it comes to training, we pay for the training of all of our riders to Bike Ability level three.

As a company, being able to be present for our customers is important. We don’t want people having to navigate complicated websites, virtual robots or automated phone systems. When our customers call us, they speak to a real person who’s on-hand to help with whatever they need.

 

What’s the most unusual delivery you’ve made?

As we focus on the healthcare industry, we don’t get any unusual requests, however, before we shifted to healthcare, we delivered a wide variety of goods including large flower arrangements, office catering, dry cleaning and client gifts. We have engaged with several charitable community initiatives such as Power to Connect where we delivered laptops to children during the multiple lockdowns. The bike capacity of our cargo box is 623 litres which is equivalent to 102 bottles of wine!

 

What advice would you give to businesses hesitant using a cargo bike operator?

For businesses, it’s important to speak to a cargo bike operator first to understand what they do, as not all operators are the same. Before we onboard clients, we ask them a multitude of questions to understand their needs and requirements. To make sure that they understand how we work, we offer a free trial so they can better understand the service. That way, everyone’s expectations are managed and we’re able to provide a service that best suits the client, their business, and their customers.

 

There aren't many female riders in the industry, why do you think that is and what do you think can be done about it?

When we first started, ecofleet did not have any female applicants nor did I see that many on the road. I think women see the size of the bike and feel it’s a lot to handle on the road, but honestly with training and shadowing another rider, a female rider can do the same deliveries. Nearly three years on and I can say that the perceptions on this mindset are shifting quickly.

 

What advice would you give to women who want to join the industry but are unsure because it's quite male dominated?

Even though we have been competitors, I can honestly say that the founders and CEOs of all our competitors including Rob at Zedify, Ben and Chris at Pedal Me and Daniel at Mango Logistics, have been most welcoming, helpful and respectful. I would not hesitate to call any of them for advice. We also work with Dan and his team at Fully Charged who have been nothing short of amazing. As they sell to the public, they are used to selling to men and women. I would encourage more women to enter this space not just to have fun but also to make a difference. Every zero-emission delivery made by a cargo bike matters.

Published in Blog

As part of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we took a look at some of history’s most influential women and their contributions to the world around us. From renewable energy to community-focused city and town planning, women across the globe have made great contributions to the natural and built environment making the world what it is today.

 

Kate Sessions

Katherine Olivia "Kate" Sessions (November 1857 – March 1940), otherwise known as “The Mother of Balboa Park,” was an internationally recognised American botanist, horticulturist landscape architect. 

 

She is credited with creating Balboa Park, California when she negotiated with the City of San Diego to lease 30 acres of land in what is now called Balboa Park, as her growing fields. In exchange she committed to planting 100 trees a year in the park plus a further 300 trees in other areas of San Diego, many of which can still be seen today.

 

Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs (May 1916 - April 2006) was a Canadian-American author, theorist, journalist and activist who greatly influenced the worlds of urban studies, sociology and economics.

 

Jacobs was instrumental in organising grassroots movements to protect neighbourhoods from what many coined as ‘urban renewal,’ including Greenwich Village in New York City. Her work was so powerful she stopped the Lower Manhattan Expressway. After many years in New York City, Jacobs moved to Toronto in 1968 where she stopped the proposed Spadina Expressway with the argument, “Are cities being built for people or cars?”. She was also known as ‘the mother of Vancouverism,’ for her work in urban planning in Vancouver.

 

Up until her death in 2006, Jacobs has been championed as a key figure in advocating for a community-based approach to city building.

 

Octavia Hill

Born in Cambridge, England, Octavia Hill (December 1838 - August 1912) was a leading figure in improving housing for the poor and advocating for open, public spaces.

 

Concerned by the living conditions found in London slums, she convinced John Ruskin to fund her concept for a new type of housing whereby a landlord provides a clean and safe property, and in return the tenant is responsible for maintenance. Proving to be a successful housing initiative, by 1874, Hill owned 15 properties with over 3,000 tenants and also designed a garden and a row of six cottages in Southwark, just a few minutes walk from our very own offices.

 

Hill also campaigned for parks and open outdoor spaces to be made accessible to the general public and fought against a number of proposed developments on forest land ultimately saving Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields from being built on. One of the three founders of the National Trust, her work continues today to preserve places of natural beauty and historical interest.

 

Sarah Guppy

Sarah Guppy (November 1770 - August 1852), was the first woman to patent a bridge in 1811, which involved making safe piling for bridges. 

 

Through a friend, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Guppy became involved in Great Western Railway working with the directors on various construction and travel projects and came up with the idea of planting willow trees and poplars to stabilise embankments.

 

Not limited to bridges and trains, Guppy was instrumental in lobbying for creating a network of local markets and traffic systems taking traffic out of the city and away from people’s homes avoiding unnecessary travel and a cleaner environment.

Published in Blog

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