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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Shawnt Bazikian & Sebouh Bazikian: 20 in Their 20s (Young & Prosperous)

Chief Executive and President One Bicycle Foundation, La Canada Flintridge Ages: 22 and 20 Sebouh Bazikian and his younger brother Shawnt operate a nonprofit, One Bicycle Foundation, which raises funds to purchase bicycles for orphans in foreign countries. The older Bazikian started the organization while still in high school. Motivation to Start Organization: I discovered my love for cycling in high school after realizing, with the help of my coach, that I had no talent for soccer. Coincidentally, I met a lady in the U.S. who ran an orphanage in Kenya and she told me how the children there walked many hours just to get school and to work. I suggested that bicycles would be the perfect solution to their problem. She challenged me to tackle this problem personally and I accepted. Biggest Challenge Starting a Nonprofit? I was a senior in high school when I started this nonprofit. My biggest challenge was convincing adults that I would handle their donations with care and that their donation would have a tangible impact in a country thousands of miles away. I don’t blame any of the businesses and adults who rejected my initial proposals. Understandably, it is tough to trust a high schooler who approaches your business and asks for hundreds of dollars to help an orphanage in Kenya. It honestly sounds like a scam! Through countless rejections and a small fundraiser, I was able to organize the first successful delivery of bicycles. The subsequent media attention and the pictures, videos and data I collected from the delivery gave our young organization the legitimacy we needed to grow. Most Interesting Aspect of Job: Everything this organization has accomplished has been a result of a team of high schoolers and college students. After our upcoming delivery this December, we will have donated well over 500 bicycles to 13 orphanages in seven countries. In addition, we have been able to mobilize hundreds of students at schools in the U.S to help with the fundraising effort. Seeing that excitement and drive among other students is very motivating for us! Personality on the Job: I believe my strength is my stubbornness. I don’t accept “no” as an answer. For example, grant writing is an important part of fundraising. We have had many of our grant proposals rejected but many of them have also been accepted. Every time we get rejected, I literally do everything in my power to find a way to talk to the grant committee so I can find ways that I could have strengthened the proposal or some aspect of our organization. I take their feedback and make the applicable improvements and wait for the next time to apply for the same grant. Usually, the second time around is a success! Most Memorable Experience: I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya to visit the first orphanage we delivered bicycles to. Teaching your child how to ride a bicycle is usually a privilege reserved for parents. Some of these children did not know how to ride bicycles and there was no one to take the time to teach them. For a brief moment, I felt like their parent, teaching the younger children how to ride the bike. I felt so proud when they were able to ride independently and it’s an experience that I will never forget. Entrepreneurial Advice: Combine your passion with charity.

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