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Blog Post 10 November 2021

Unlocking business growth with ecargo bike funding

Given the rise of the ecargo bike among small businesses and sole traders as a cheaper and more sustainable transport option, Energy Saving Trust spoke with Aaron Fleming-Saheed, owner of The Cycling Sparks and an electrician from South East London.

He reflects on how his business has benefited from the eCargo Bike Grant Fund, and what advice he would give to others considering investing in ecargo bikes.

Tell us a bit about The Cycling Sparks. Why did an ecargo bike appeal to you?

After working in a mixture of construction, commercial and facilities management companies for a number of years, I had already switched from using a van and public transport to cycling to commute to different sites in London.

In early 2017, I made the decision to venture out on my own. I wanted to continue riding my bike as my main mode of transport because it was far simpler and significantly less polluting than driving a van or taking public transport, so I founded The Cycling Sparks in August 2017 in a bid to change the way things were done and to push the boundaries.

I started out on a regular pushbike with a backpack full of tools and materials, working locally in South East London for mostly domestic clients. Since then, I’ve expanded and I now work with a diverse range of clients and businesses.

What prompted you to adopt an ecargo bike?

I was originally looking for a standard cargo bike because electric cargo (ecargo) bikes were not readily available to try out in 2017, and the pricing was out of my range for a new business just getting started.

I eventually purchased an ebike, which was unfortunately stolen, but thankfully by that time there were more ecargo bikes on the market.

After experimenting with what was and wasn’t possible on a regular bike, I already knew that an ecargo would benefit me considerably in terms of range and the number of tools and materials I could carry. An ecargo bike would help me grow my business even further.

What action did you take?

For a startup company, I found that the cost of an ecargo bike was a significant barrier. I had been in touch with MP Smarter Travel, a sustainable transport consultancy, who suggested I get in touch with the Department for Transport as they would be providing grants for business to adopt ecargo bikes. I applied as soon as the eCargo Bike Grant Fund was launched back in 2019.

How has an ecargo bike made a difference to The Cycling Sparks?

Since receiving the grant, I’ve been able to travel further and carry more equipment to jobs. Meanwhile, my transport costs are low, my carbon footprint is almost zero and I’m not hampered by traffic or road works.

Since purchasing my ecargo bike in August 2019, I’ve ridden over 5,500 miles, which is a lot in London, and I’ve saved roughly 9,504kg of CO2 emissions. All of this without having to pay for petrol or diesel, parking, Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges or congestion charges.

My electricity supplier uses renewable energy, so my carbon footprint is minimal and a full charge of the ecargo bike cost less than £2. I love the bike and so do my clients.

Since 2017, we have grown steadily and are pleased to announce we have been successful in this year’s round of funding, which will help us to expand the business further.

eCargo Bike Grant Fund 2021

Energy Saving Trust and the Department for Transport launched the second round of funding for the eCargo Bike Grant Fund on 31 July 2021. The £400,000 fund was aimed at helping small businesses to introduce ecargo bikes into their everyday transport operations.

Funding covers up to 40% of the total cost of an ecargo bike, up to a maximum of £2,500 for two-wheel models and £4,500 for three-wheel models.

Due to the phenomenal success of the scheme, the portal for applications is now closed.

To read more about how having an ecargo bike benefitted Aaron’s business for the better, you can read the full case study here.

Last updated: 9 November 2021