- Entrepreneur Name: Nedra Deadwyler
- Venture Name: Civil Bikes
- Impact Focus Area(s): Historic Preservation, Community Identity, Culture Work
- Business Stage (Ideation, Startup, Early, Later, Mature): Early
- Year Venture Established: 2013 / 2014
- Business Type: Social Impact / LLC
Social entrepreneurship is about solving problems. Tell us about the challenge you are focused on addressing and why it is critical that we make progress.
“Civil Bikes brings attention to unseen and under-recognized stories of Atlanta. We emphasize the importance of having someone who resembles or is from that particular community. We want to be as authentic as possible. This allows for those outside (and inside) to gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences and have a nuanced view of the history. The Guide serves as a literal guide through the highs and lows of the historical narrative. The 1.5 to 2 hours is not enough time to tell the full story, so we pair the history up to sites that are critical to the telling of the narrative that we may have lost to demolition, at risk of losing because of neglect, or it has been adapted to some other use and we have no idea what purpose it once served. In a changing city, remembering is a challenge because sometimes people prefer to forget and move on.”
Entrepreneurship is a journey that requires connections and support from a wide array of stakeholders across the ecosystem to help successfully identify, start, and grow a social enterprise.
“My entrance into culture work came in an unassuming way and has multiple threads. It is an extension of my love of riding a bicycle and having the thought while touring Alabama- a largely rural state- that exploring history on a bicycle would be more interesting than riding in the back of a car! Another thread is while growing up, I constantly asked questions to understand why issues like racism, genderism, and nationalism existed, not using those words of course, but sought to understand these things that did not align with my beliefs or what my parents and family taught me. I became a social worker, lived in other cities and the practice of listening, examining society and embracing cultures were choices I sought in my professional, religious, and social life. The final thread was coming to terms with the fact that relationship and lifestyle choices were not enough to create equity for myself and others, that goodwill didn’t go far and wide. I was compelled to take action and find more intentional ways to address issues that are of concern and work to impact society. Today, I believe that the only way to have a future is to seek a just society.”
Why Georgia’s Social Impact Ecosystem Matters
Being an entrepreneur is hard and it’s even more challenging when you are a social entrepreneur as your business model and / or structure doesn’t follow the same path as traditional start-ups.
“There are entrepreneurs on both sides of my family and both are traditional in structure. I come from a non-profit/service mindset, and learning how to create a sustainable business model is one of my biggest challenges. Civil Bikes’ current business model takes money from admissions tickets and reinvests those profits into locally-owned businesses, cultural and historical spaces and artists, which changes our profit margins.
Additionally, this direct exchange into the tour community supports spaces at-risk of being gentrified, harkens use to the identity and character of the neighborhoods, and are either Black, women, immigrant, or LGBTQAI/ Queer-owned. Other sources of revenue are a list of services: tours for our audiences, developing tours as an economic development tool for groups (municipalities, cultural groups, businesses, etc.), sponsorships and grants, and merchandise.
Finally, I am thankful to my last employer for not seeing any conflict with me running Civil Bikes and appreciate Clay, my family, a few close friends and now my CCI [Center for Civic Innovation] family for that felt and necessary emotional, hands-on, and technical support. I’ve experienced burnout before and thankfully, it is not on the horizon!”
Interested in learning more about Civil Bikes, please visit:
- Instagram: @civil_bikes
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/civilbikestours/
- Website: https://civilbikes.com/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nedra-deadwyler-7a793122/