New Roots Stories: The Entrepreneur Driving Action on Air Pollution
9 November 2021 - kingscross

In 2013 a 9-year-old girl from London, Ella Kissi-Debrah, sadly passed away due to an asthma attack and became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.

The story particularly resonated with Bejoseholo Aikhomun, who learned about the case in a documentary a few years later. With an existing passion for sustainability, he decided to take action.

Last year Bejoseholo became a participant on New Roots, our programme for aspiring entrepreneurs from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background, and powered by GoDaddy. He joined with the idea Instant Pickup, a platform for eco-friendly van services. Through peer-to-peer support, training and mentoring, Bejoseholo was able to bring his business concept closer to reality.

In the midst of COP26, we caught up with the New Roots alumnus to hear about his entrepreneurial ambitions for tackling climate change, as well as his views on inclusive business.

 

What challenge are you looking to solve?

‘I’m on a mission to solve the huge problem of air pollution within the logistics sector.’

 

How does your business aim to achieve this?

‘By developing one of the first on-demand platforms where organisations and individuals can find eco-friendly vans for their same-day logistics needs.

Instant Pickup uses a triadic marketplace business model, bringing together companies and individuals in need of sustainable vans with eco-friendly van drivers. We do not own any electric vans but instead build our fleet through a network. We have transparent pricing and take a 16.5% revenue share from each booking on the platform.’

 

What are your ambitions for the business?

‘In the short term, our platform will remove the key barriers to accessing low carbon transport. We believe it will also incentivize more van drivers to go electric, once they see proven demand. According to an IBIS report on removal services in the UK, 68.7% of vans in the sector are driven by self-employed drivers. Consequently, they need to see some traction before making the transition to electric vans.

In the long term, this project will directly contribute towards the Government’s net-zero strategy and clean growth strategy created by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

As a result, we envisage that:

  • In the environmental sphere, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions help to combat air pollution in the capital and, while furthering the uptake of green vehicles.
  • In the social sphere, it will help normalise alternative fuel vans as a viable form of transport and supply chain solution, creating more sustainable jobs in the transport sector. It will also improve health by reducing air pollution.
  • In the economic sphere, it will allow drivers and companies to save money and boost a sustainable post-Covid 19 recovery, by removing the need to buy their own electric vans, but rather share vehicles and help reduce congestion. Thus, Instant Pickup will help contribute to rebuilding the national economy without compromising future generations of Londoners.’

 

What value did you see from an inclusion-focused programme?

‘The New Roots programme has been amazing, as it’s important to support startups in general as they have become the backbone of digital development and innovation.

However, in this era of technology and globalisation, more effort should be made to support founders from diverse cultural backgrounds, as diversifying the startup space provides a new perspective in the industry. It allows more opportunities for founders and helps to reach an untapped market of consumers who are experiencing everyday problems but are not easily identified by people who don’t have an ethnic minority background.

Consequently, by working with diverse founders, the New Roots programme has been able to provide support, mentorship and introduced us to a wide community, which we wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.  I am extremely grateful to the New Roots programme team, GoDaddy, and Impact Hub King’s Cross.’

Instant Pickup is getting ready to open its (van) doors to the public – keep an eye out for the latest news on their Twitter and Instagram channels.

 

Climate justice can’t happen without racial, social, and intergenerational justice.

That’s why, alongside running New Roots for the 3rd year, we’re developing a new Circular City programme, which will support local people to tackle climate change, as well as promote inclusion in the sustainability sector.

Want to stay updated on the progress and launch? Be sure to sign-up below to be in the know. 

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