“Both Mercedes-Benz and Laureus enrich the lives of young people by enabling them to identify their personal strengths and learn how to get the best out of their abilities. But, to change the world for the better, we need to keep moving forward,” says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Mercedes-Benz, Qhubeka Charity and Real Bicycle Co.
It is through the strong relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation that 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), which shares a hometown with the automotive manufacturer’s plant.
Mercedes-Benz invested R20 million rand into RBC through an enterprise and supplier development fund. The move from importing and assembling bicycles to manufacturing them locally will contribute to job creation and skills transfer; stimulating the local economy and shaping the future of mobility.
“We are excited to be producing our own bicycles through RBC. This wouldn’t have been possible without the buy-in of Mercedes-Benz South Africa, who provided not only the funding we needed to establish the factory, but their invaluable expertise in the automotive manufacturing environment,” says Anthony Fitzhenry, Qhubeka Charity founder.
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 will also procure 350 RBC-built bicycles from Qhubeka Charity. These will be donated to learners of Nyameko High School in Mdantsane, which is part of the company’s School Transformation and Empowerment Programme (STEP) programme.
Mercedes-Benz and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka
Mercedes-Benz South Africa will 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. “Through this sponsorship, we hope to be able to continue the efforts to promote South African and African participation within the greatest spectator tournament in the world.
“In fact, just last year, the Amaury Sport Organisation, the organisers of the Tour De France, agreed to fund one Qhubeka/RBC Bicycle for every rider in the Tour. That is, 176 bicycles in total as part of its ‘future of cycling’ initiative that will provide cycling equipment for children until 2020,” says Fritz.
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.
“Mercedes-Benz has been an incredible supporter of our Team Dimension Data UCI Continental Team in South Africa and the Qhubeka Charity, this shows how much they care about the development of people, sports talent and the mobility of communities.
“To extend that partnership into the World Tour team is a real privilege where high performance and reliability across our demanding race schedule in multiple countries and varied terrain is critical to our success,” says Douglas Ryder, Team Principal of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka.
“We are extremely proud of the ongoing work being done by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and Qhubeka Charity. We are glad that we as Mercedes-Benz South Africa, can contribute towards the sustainability and expansion of this great work,” concludes Fritz.