A Business born from Love
Family-owned Green Bike Aruba VBA, headed by Emily Cartaya, was officially launched June 1st 2017. It was a long road to get there for the Venezuelan family that fell in love with Aruba as tourists. After three years of researching and conversing with banks and various government departments and institutions, Green Bike Aruba finally saw the light of day last year. Emily states that their company is “a business with a heart” as well as a family affair. They want to offer a healthier mode of transportation for tourists and locals alike – be it for touring, leisure or as a healthy pastime for families.
While Emily explains how the business came to be, one word stands out more than any other: perseverance. Her family arrived on Aruba with no contacts or network and literally went knocking on doors with their business idea. The amount of “no’s” they received was heartbreaking but it didn’t deter them from their goal that they proudly stand behind. They would wait at Parliament all day to talk to a Minister about their plans. Eventually this perseverance paid off. They got to speak to the right people, or were directed towards the departments that would be able to offer more assistance. “DIP (Infrastructure and Planning) and DOW (Public Works) have been very helpful institutions,” Emily says. To be able to place the bike stations they needed the approval of these organizations.
Unique Set-up and Development
The manner in which Green Bike is run is unique since Aruba is the only place in the world where the government is not the owner of this type of service – Green Bike Aruba is both the proprietor and operator of the bike share and rental services. This gives the company both liberties as well as challenges; Green Bike Aruba has final decision-making power, but they are dependent on sponsors who place advertisements on the bikes to cover all the costs, including maintenance of the stations. They are pleased to see that the current sponsors are proud to be associated with them – and are looking for more partners that want to be connected with a message of ‘health’ in their own marketing. They are also looking to develop the social aspects of the organization more by collaborating with other partners. Their main objective for now is to collaborate with the Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) to better inform tourists of the services they offer on the island prior to arrival, including two tours: one seeking the hidden treasures of Oranjestad and the other exploring the north coast towards the California Lighthouse as a main attraction.
Emily shares that tourists are not their only target group. They also have their mind set on attracting the local population through various memberships. As a way to encourage locals to use the bikes for a healthier lifestyle, one station is placed close to the Linear Park, which was constructed by the government to promote more exercising and healthier living. Green Bike is looking to connect with IBISA (Instituto Biba Saludabel y Activo/Institute to live an active and healthy live) to explore options for collaboration to achieve this healthier lifestyle for all. It is clearly a topic that the business is passionate about since they are working on a campaign ad targeted towards locals. Another issue is the fact that the Green Bike operation is set up through credit cards to track how long a bike is used. Many Arubans are not in possession of a credit card. The company is looking into other options for local payments with banks to see what possibilities there are.
When asked what sets Green Bike Aruba apart from other bike rental services on the island the immediate answer is: accessibility. Tourists don’t have to spend much time looking for an office where they have to pick up a bike, or arrange for transportation to get there. The stations are conveniently placed around the hotel areas and at walking distance from the tourists’ accommodations. It is a simple system activated through a swipe with a credit card. Furthermore, the company offers various packages and services, depending on what the customer wants. They have a bike share and bike rental option. The bike share is comparable to a short-term rental where you can use the bike for maximum of one hour per trip (the bike needs to be locked in any of the available stations between the trips). If the client wants to use the bike for four, six or eight hours at a time they may opt for the bike rental instead. The eight stations and hundred bikes are cleaned and checked on a daily basis to ensure that there is no fault with either and that the bikes are safe to use. If there is an issue the user can call the customer service line and a Green Bike representative will be there in almost no time to assist, be it flat tires or any other issue. Emily says that quality is extremely important to them and they will do anything to assist their customers, making sure that their experience in Aruba is a memorable one. Growth and further development of the company are dependent in Aruba’s vision of a health oriented community that sees a bike as a reasonable and exciting mode of transportation. Expansion is dependent on more accessibility; there are already more bike paths connecting areas past the Green Corridor to Oranjestad. For now Green Bike Aruba can look back on a successful first year with 8000 rides and counting.