This is the first feature we’re running as part of a series, which looks at interesting social enterprises that inspire us. We believe we’re all better off for hearing about these stories, the people and the reasons behind them. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you too.

Beba Bike Café // A chance encounter

Late last year Phil was in Brazil, sourcing our house coffee from the Divinolandia Co-Op. Whilst walking down the Paulista Avenida, Sao Paulo, he came across Beba Bike Café. This is their story.

Created in 2013, Bike Café is a coffee brand with a focus on social causes and improving the world through bikes. That’s right….. Bikes. Cadu and Murilo founded the company and see things in a simple manner, "Our mission is to improve the relationship of people with the city they live in and with the coffee they drink. Through simple pleasures, bring a better quality of life in a different way, ".

They set up a bicycle coffee bar and took to the streets to shout about what they were doing: Serving delicious, specialty coffee and raising money to support good work in the city they lived. At first, they organised big festivals and events, attracting the attention of potential clients, at a time when the cycle culture was flourishing. Today, Bike Café runs around 15 events per month, serving approximately 3,000 coffees a day, while running a bike courier service for their wholesale accounts.

Paulista Avenida

Paulista Avenida,  Sao Paulo Brazil

Dig a little deeper and you’ll find Bike Café was set up by a group of friends that run an NGO called Aromeiazero (Aro). Cycling and it's culture was a common interest for the friends but the café also supports Aro through a donation of it's profits. For Cadu, Aro began because they wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on society. He says the idea was never to open a T-shirt shop or a car wash: "We did not want to start a business. We wanted to change our lives by doing something that we believed in.

Aro's first project was Pedal Zezinho, in partnership with Casa do Zezinho, an NGO that serves low-income youth in Capão Redondo, a southern region in Sao Paulo. The idea consists of a morning of bicycle workshops for the children attended by the NGO. The project was a success and inspired them to start Bike Café. Now, with the help from funding from the Bike Cafe Aro has collected 500 donated bikes, repaired more than 1,000 in community workshops and trained 120 people to refubish their bikes. This in tun, has led them to run art exhibitions, public workshops, help support of the city hall and hold training courses for anyone in the city who relies on bikes for work. All of this is funded by the proceeds of the Bike Café!

One of the things that inspires us most about Aro and Bike Café is their realistic and honest attitude towards business and what their aspirations are.

"We do not pretend to accumulate great wealth. The result we are looking for is whether the staff liked it, whether we will be called back to the event, whether there were good discussions in the proposal we made" In four years since they started the company, valuable lessons have been learned.... "When you start doing it, you get so caught up in it that you take a lot of work. Then comes the hangover and the cure, which is to have a social life again. We are at this stage, "Murilo says, laughing. 

Thanks Murilo, We totally agree.