I spoke with Barbara Alink on a chilly November morning. Our conversation began with the uncertainty that seems to be pervasive right now. With a warm earnestness Barbara shared her vision of inclusion, love, and social change with me. Her motto seems to be,“Do what you’re passionate about and take care of each other! Don’t let anything stand in your way.”
For those of you who haven’t heard of her, Barbara invented The Alinker Bike, which she refers to as “a vehicle for social change”. The Alinker story began with a comment by Barbara’s aging mother. While passing some elderly people with walkers and scooters, she said: “over my dead body will I ever use one of those!”
The comment sparked something in Barbara’s mind and the birth of her ‘bike’ was underway. Her compassion and commitment are abundantly evident as she relates her desire to change people’s perceptions about those who are differently abled.
A two time attendee at the Social Venture Institute, Barbara’s company was the focus of a business-problem solving session at the 2016 conference. Since that session an amazing amount has happened and The Alinker is rolling in increasingly prestigious circles. Two Alinker’s featured in the Bezgraniz Couture runway show at LA Fashion Week. From there she travelled to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Moscow where her Alinker again graced the runway and she picked up several brand ambassadors, prominent models from the UK, Australia, and LA. As if that weren’t enough she also attended the Zoomer Show in Toronto, launched an online store, and made an appearance on Canada’s the Dragon’s Den.
In Spring 2017 Barbara and The Alinker were chosen as a SheEO Top 5 Venture for 2016. With this award she joins the growing ranks of female led companies that are shifting our perspectives on what business means, what being a female business leader means, and ultimately showing that we can change the world with an innovative idea and a little support.
When I brought the conversation back to what specific problem she posed to the group at SVI she responded, “It’s not a problem, it’s a dynamic process that needs more input.” It became apparent that this is a central tenet of Barbara’s philosophy. Her company is about inclusion, about vulnerability, and about understanding, not about ‘fixing a problem’. She says, “we can not dismiss each other based on the physical… disability confronts our own vulnerability”, and The Alinker is her response to that.
Barbara confirms that her experiences at Social Venture Institute have been “Priceless, it’s a safe environment to be vulnerable, open, and honest” about the challenges entrepreneurs face. The session provided her with a real sense of connection to others who are also trying to change the world. One of the biggest take aways for her from SVI was the acknowledgement that finding partners is about values alignment. Her focus since then has been on finding common threads with potential investors, the central question being what can we do together to build inclusion?
Are You A SheEO Activator or Venture?
If you’re a part of the SheEO community, we highly encourage you to apply to SVI Vancouver this year and let us know that you’re a part of SheEO, we have a limited number of discounted registrations available for the SheEO community.