"As a wheelchair user myself, thoughtful design has enabled me to work, travel and be independent. I think everyone should have that opportunity - no matter where they are in the world."

Where Motivation began

Motivation has been changing lives for nearly three decades. Our wheelchairs, our programmes and our advocacy work has travelled the world. 

It all started in 1989, with two Royal College of Art students entering a competition. Their goal? To design a wheelchair for disabled people in developing countries.

David Constantine and Simon Gue were determined to create a prototype that put the user at its heart. It had to be robust to cope with rough terrain, affordable and made using materials that could be locally sourced. It had to be supportive for the needs of those with spinal cord injury and other mobility disabilities.

Their design won. 

The judges convinced the pair to take the prototype a step further. So David and Simon travelled to Bangladesh, with their friend Richard Frost, and they built their first wheelchair for a local disability organisation.

Seeing first-hand how quickly an appropriate wheelchair could transform a life, they were easily persuaded to develop their work further.

In 1991, the team of three started their first wheelchair workshop. Motivation began. 

Read our ebook for more detail on the Motivation journey

Ebook cover showing a man in Uganda doing a wheelie in his Motivation wheelchair outside his hut

Thanks to the incredible team of publishing students at Bath Spa University who created this for our 25th anniversary!

Taking things global

Over the next decade, the growing team lent their expertise to organisations in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East, Central America and 17 countries across Africa.

Learning all the time from people using our wheelchairs, we became experts in design for different bodies, needs, environments and terrain. But, vitally, we’ve also realised how important it is to provide wheelchairs with proper assessment, fitting and adjustment.

We wanted to share this knowledge and raise standards for wheelchair provision across the sector. So in 2008, we worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) to publish 'Guidelines on the provision of manual wheelchairs in less resourced settings'. This guidance aims to ensure that disabled people don't just get any wheelchair, but they get the right wheelchair, in the right way.

A young child from Uganda in a Motivation wheelchair at school, leaning forward and smiling

Getting sporty

Another exciting opportunity arose in 2005 when the International Paralympic Committee asked us to design low-cost sports wheelchairs. Their vision was to make sport more inclusive to those in developing countries, so they asked for our expertise.

Since then our Multisport and Flying Start wheelchairs have opened up the world of sport to thousands of people worldwide.

Motivation today

Motivation now produces a whole range of high-quality wheelchairs, trikes and supportive seats for use in developing countries.

We also provide training to technicians and clinicians to prescribe the right equipment for specific needs and environments.

We run peer training so someone who is newly disabled through a spinal cord injury or illness can learn about their independence and mobility.

We support disabled people, their families and communities to understand their rights and how to tackle stigma and discrimination.

We collaborate with global, national and local partners, from the WHO to international non-profits.

We influence the way disability and development are understood by governments, communities and individuals.

We use innovative design to create programmes and products that put disabled people at the heart of everything we do.

We’re proud to play a part in making sport accessible to all.

Motivation has touched the lives of disabled people in 120 countries around the globe. And we’re just as committed to giving disabled people the products and support they need to live happy, healthy and independent lives.

We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a lot to do...

Hear from co-founder David Constantine on TEDx