26 Jul Bicycles, a driving force for social inclusion and representativeness.
At Aromeioazero, bicycles are not only a means of transport; they are also a symbol of freedom, advocacy for social inclusion and diversity.
Celebrating ten years in 2021, Aromeiazero (“Aro”) is a Brazilian NGO that develops social, educational and cultural projects to reduce social inequalities and make cities more resilient. Their mission is to use bicycles to promote changes in cities and people’s way of life. In an interview for the IE Social Innovation and Sustainability Center with Murilo Casagrande, Aromeiazero’s co-founder and director of institutional development, he explained how they use bikes to advocate for social inclusion and diversity.
Aromeiazero works through individual projects that have their focus on helping to promote these changes in society. Between collecting non-used bikes for donations, teaching children how to ride a bike and courses on renovating bikes, among many other initiatives, Aro has a purpose to be inclusive with people who are particularly vulnerable and in underrepresented groups (such as people from the city’s periphery, LGBTQ+, black, women and indigenous peoples). Therefore, Murilo and his team take all actions towards achieving a more diverse and inclusive environment, in a sustainable way.
Aro’s team believes that to make a step towards having truly diverse and inclusive spaces, we must act inside our teams and make sure that these underrepresented groups have room in the teams and also in the important roles. They believe that to have this representation and to be sustainable over time, we cannot treat this mission as temporary social assistance. Thus they argue that we have to have representation at all levels and make structural changes from the top. At Aro, this approach is seen in their teams, classes and partnerships. Their team has made sure that women are in all coordinators positions, taking the lead in mechanical categories and challenging traditional thoughts towards bikes. In their classes, they have contracts defending social inclusion and agreements for respectful environments. They also aim for representation in their courses’ selection, always aiming to have at least 50% women, as well as having representation from black, indigenous, and LGBTQ+ people. In their partnerships, they challenge their partners to have more representation, to hire more diverse teams and to re-think their roles. Hence, Aro is acting thoughtfully in every interaction they have and taking them as opportunities to advance their cause.
Beyond having an impact in these structural areas, bikes also have many other social opportunities. For example, Aro’s courses to reform bikes and the bike donations can cause positive social impacts in people’s lives because those learnings can generate working opportunities, jobs and salaries. In addition to this, people can have more access to the city once they receive their bikes. These allow for lifestyle changes, such as having more leisure time, access to parks and other areas of the city which before were more difficult.
Everyone from Aro’s nearly 700 graduates and 10,000 youtube visualizations on their courses has benefited somehow from their efforts, which goes way beyond just numbers.
You can also support Aromeiazero’s initiatives, by downloading for free the app “Km solidário” and selecting their project. It is completely free, and by registering your KM (walking, running, cycling, swimming, any way you make it), you will be donating to their project.
Viver de Bike is a member of the Red Innova and was a semifinalist in the 1# edition of the Social Innovation Awards by Fundación MAPFRE, powered by IE. They competed in Brazil in the category of Mobility and Road Safety. Red Innova is a global community of social innovators, who participated in the awards. Our members come from all across Latin America and Europe and have projects related to Mobility, Road Safety, Health, Ageingnomics and Insurance Innovation.
Eduarda Uliana is a Brazilian/Italian fourth year Behavioral and Social Sciences student. Currently she is a behavioral design intern at the Center for Social Innovation and Sustainability at IE Foundation, research assistant at the Behavioral Economics and Social Psychology lab (BESP), president of the IE Behavioral Economics club and IE Grants4Impact Challenge jury.