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Bici-t: the new way to visit Torino

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Bici-t is the new sustainable tourism service to discover the city of Torino on board pedal tricycles. “It’s a great mode of transport for the city-centre; very efficient and ecological” says Elisa Gallo, one of the four founders of Bici-T. “Pedal vehicles are an excellent solution for traffic in pedestrian areas or in areas already heavily congested.”

Elisa, along with Vittorio Bianco, Diego Enrico Panzetta and Giuseppe Piras, share a passion for tourism, culture and ecology, which they bring together in Bici-t. “I guess we’re like activists in sustainable mobility really,” she says “We’ve all settled in Torino and made it our home. Torino is our city, and with this project, we wanted to showcase the best the city has to offer and at the same time make a difference for the environment.”

The Bici-t project won an award from the Facilito Giovani of Torino Social Innovation in the field of social innovation. The grant they were expecting, however, fell through when various legislative complications arose, leaving the team in dire economic straits. “We were facing bankruptcy because we had started investing and bought all sorts of material, like the tricycles. With a long list of suppliers and friends to whom we owed money, we felt that we had taken a big risk and when the grant failed to materialise, we were in trouble. But we didn’t want to abandon our project, so we chose to take a risk again. We sought funding to bridge the gap, but as a start-up it’s not easy to get support. You have little credibility.”

Elisa and her associates were able, however, to secure a loan from PerMicro, guaranteed by the EU. “It was key. We were up against the wall, but with this we really felt we could breathe again and keep the project alive.” The loan allowed Bici-t to finance working capital, and also to partly cover their investment costs.

Although still under pressure, Bici-t is now on more stable footing. “Sustainable tourism is an innovative concept, and many people want a different model for the city,” explains Elisa, “but innovating isn’t always easy. In theory everyone agrees, but when it comes to making it happen, many institutions are just not ready, there are many interests at stake and there can also be significant legislative hurdles. We were lucky however, and the EU stepped in to support us where the local actors couldn’t” Elisa concludes.

Company: Bici-t (Italy)

Type of business: tourism, transport

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument

Financial intermediary: PerMicro

For further information abiout EIF intermediaries in Italy, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/it

 

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