Juliet McGuire

Mercedes-Benz investing R20m in bicycles

I am not one to do articles on manufacturers and their various charities, but this one with Mercedes-Benz and Qhubeka spoke to me somehow. Which is weird because I am not the biggest fan of cyclists in general (more on that another time though, I don’t feel like arguing today).

Did you know that 12 million children in this country walk to school every day. They walk any where between five and 15 kilometres. That means between one and three hours of walking. Just to get to school. Can you even fathom that? I know I can’t.

Enter Mercedes-Benz, Qhubeka, the Laureus Foundation and Team Dimension Data…

Through its relationship with the Laureus Foundation, Mercedes-Benz was introduced to Qhubeka Charity — a non-profit company that works to move people forward by improving their access to schools, clinics and jobs with bicycles. In 2017, Qhubeka Charity established a fully-owned bicycle design and manufacturing subsidiary, Real Bicycle Co. (RBC).

Mercedes-Benz has now invested R20 million in to RBC. What is even better is that the assembly plant is based in East London which means not only will bicycles go to those in need, but jobs will also be created.

“The move from importing and assembling bicycles to manufacturing them locally will contribute to job creation in East London, and enhance skills transfer through the Mercedes-Benz Learning Academy; thus stimulating the local economy and driving the future of mobility.” That’s the press release version of what I just said.

More than 2 500 bicycles have already been made but the goal is to build 25 000 a year. The ultimate goal is a million a year. Having perfected the bicycle prototype, RBC is currently scaling its manufacturing capabilities. As well as being distributed through Qhubeka’s various learn-to-earn, work-to-earn and disaster relief programmes, RBC-built bicycles will be available for retail to the general public, presenting a new income stream for the charity.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa will also be the official vehicle sponsor for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, in a deal which will see the German automotive giant as the team’s official vehicle partner for three years. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, a Laureus Ambassador since 2014, will carry the three-pointed star on the collar of their jerseys, and drive a wide-range of vehicles as they race across the globe over approximately 280 days in 2019.

Doesn’t this article just give you all the feels. Well done to Mercedes-Benz on a great partnership, one that could make a real difference in people’s lives. And if you want to make a difference to a child’s life, please donate through the Qhubeka website.

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