Mercedes-Benz continues to support the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation legacy through its role as the country patron sponsor in South Africa. “Mercedes-Benz and Laureus both believe in the power of passion, determination and perseverance. Laureus imparts these qualities to the youth through the medium of sport,” says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
It is through this strong relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the Laureus 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.
In 2018, Mercedes-Benz invested R20 million rand into RBC through an enterprise development fund. 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.
To date, RBC has manufactured more than 2,500 Qhubeka bicycles. “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 procure 350 RBC-built bicycles from Qhubeka Charity as part of its corporate social responsibility initiatives. These bicycles will be donated to learners of Nyameko High School in Mdantsane — a school in the company’s School Transformation and Empowerment Programme (STEP) programme.
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. “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.
“Just last year, the Amaury Sport Organization, the organisers of the Tour De France, agreed to fund one Qhubeka bicycle for every rider in the Tour. That is, 176 bicycles per year 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, Qhubeka Charity and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. We are glad that we, as Mercedes-Benz South Africa, can power a nation through mobility by contributing towards the sustainability and expansion of this great work,” concludes Fritz.