VELECO - Ethical Cyclewear
VELECO will be the first Fair Trade and eco friendly cyclewear brand in the world
The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you
Country of residence of entrepreneur
Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?
I did a development studies degree at uni and I have been passionate about the environment and helping people as long as I can remember. I love cycling but couldn't find an ethical alternative. I've developed a number of innovative ethical products before including the world's first Fairtrade trainers and footballs, so why not make cycling more ethical?
This is why I want to develop VELECO the world's first eco-friendly and Fair Trade cyclewear brand was born.
About Your Organization
United Kingdom, ESX, Brighton
Country where this project is creating social impact
Pakistan, XX, Sialkot
Is your organization a
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The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Cyclewear is currently unethical and not particuarly eco-friendly. Currently urban cyclists have limited choice when it comes to clothing. They can choose loud / unfashionable technical wear and there are few fashion items that convey their passion for cycling and urban riding.
Our target market is urban cyclists 'any one that rides a bike in urban environments' - This does include both men and women in a wide age demographic from 16 - 40 but within this there are different segments that we want to target including; student cyclists, cyclists who have an interest in green / ethical issues, commuter cyclists and casual cyclists (once a week / weekends).
The size of the UK cycling accessories market alone is worth £853m per annum (source LSE / British Cycling report 2010).
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Our unique selling point is that VELECO will be the most ethical and eco-friendly cyclewear brand in the world. We achieve this by using Fair Trade principles in our factories and we only use natural or recycled materials in our ranges. Our positioning is unique, other cyclewear brands focus on sports or countryside cyclists, we are targeting urban cyclists. Our branding, messaging and marketing will also be more innovative & interesting than our competitors.
We will provide urban cyclists with stylish ethical cyclewear that doesn't make you look like an idiot when you get off your bike and walk into a pub or bar.
Through our Fair Trade project in Pakistan where our factory is based we ensure the workers are paid an above average wage and we pay a Fair Trade premium of 15% on every garment made. They can then decide how this money is used for the local community, in health, education, business & welfare projects. This helps to solve a number of issues facing the local community.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
The Fair Trade premiums would be spent on local health care projects such as a clinic providing workers and their families with free health care / treatment.
The project would also make available micro credit loans that can be used by local entrepreneurs who want to set up their own businesses, thereby diversifying local businesses away from factory work.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
The only real competitors that we have identified in the UK market our Howies. They do not use Fair Trade manufacturing and they use some organic materials. They also position themselves as an outdoors / countryside brand.
We will be more eco and ethical than them using Fair Trade principles and ensuring our whole business is as ethical as possible. VELECO has an urban positioning that is the opposite of Howies.
Select the stage that best applies to your business
Operating for less than a year
This Entry is about (Issues)
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?
As a new brand VELECO hasn't yet had a social impact. In my previous business I set up with my business partner a Fair Trade manufacturing scheme in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. VELECO will use Fair Trade manufacturing and benefit the local communities.
What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?
Initial funding for stock, hence why Ben and Jerry we'd love your help! We plan to overcome these barriers by entering this awards scheme and by looking for investment from Triodos our ethical bank and / or ethical/eco angel investors.
Other barriers would be 'me too' brands that follow our ethical cyclewear lead or major brands changing their positioning. We would counter this by our first to market positioning and strong marketing / pr messaging about our core values.
How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?
- We will use organic, natural and recycled materials wherever possible
- Marketing and packaging materials will be made from recycled and eco materials
- Our website is hosted using carbon neutral servers
- We plan to only use sea freight for stock wherever possible
- We have a policy of using fellow ethical companies where we can, so our bank and even our insurance broker are ethical
- We hope to set up a carbon balancing project planting trees in Pakistan and Sri Lanka as soon as we can
Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?
Social entrepreneurship is a growing force for improving farming and social welfare in developing countries. I am proud to be part of this movement and I speak to many young people who have a passion for business and social conscience.
You only have to look at brands such as Pants to Poverty and People Tree in fashion, to see how entrepreneurs can launch exciting and innovative brands. Which can make a tangible difference to the working conditions and welfare of producers and manufactures in developing countries.
What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?
I think working with people from European countries will be an exciting challenge, it's always great to see how you can work with people who have different skills and cultural differences.
I guess this will apply to working with the local farmers, it will be an interesting dynamic and challenge how young people from across Europe can work with Ugandan farmers. Language could be a problem but there is nothing like working up a sweat in a field to break down cultural and language difference, as we are all the same with a spade in our hands.