replanting bamboo

Bryan Benitez McClelland, PHILIPPINES

Social Entrepreneur and Founder, BAMBIKE

“If there’s a wheel, there’s a way,” as some like to use the pun. In the case of Bryan Benitez-McClelland, he took the wheel, as well as one of the most resilient trees on the planet, and started a revolution. His socio-ecological enterprise, Bambike, produces bicycles made from bamboo, and its mission goes beyond the retail business of selling specialised, custom-built bicycles to an elite market. The brand is built on a set of core values (people, planet, progress) with the earnest intention of providing solutions to some of the Philippines’ biggest problems: environmental degradation, transportation and mobility, poverty and under-utilised manpower. Using the bicycle, bamboo technology, and business, Bambike reorients how we look at consumerism and entrepreneurship in relation to the community. This is not the first time bamboo was used for lifestyle products or for innovative sustainable solutions in the country, but it’s definitely speeding things up on the road to change.

What was the idea behind Bambike?

I moved back to the Philippines in 2007, after completing my Masters in Environmental Resource Management focused on Sustainable Community Development at the University of Pensilvania. My attention was drawn to Gawad Kalinga, a community development program in the Philippines. I was interested in a project that would make a positive impact in the country. It all started as a volutourism type of project to help Gawad Kalinga create a green building program. Back in the states, I was a whitewater kayak instructor, and I didn’t see much of that here, so I seized the opportunity and started Rapid Stream Ecotours, my first business endeavour in ecotourism development. My interest wasn’t merely in starting a business to make money.