Operations at Qhubeka’s bicycle facility, located at Nederburg in Paarl, are now in full swing with four previously unemployed women from the local Paarl East community expertly trained in the assembly, maintenance and repair of bicycles. They have set out to build a minimum of 5 000 robust, purpose-built bicycles, as per prescribed quality levels, per year.
The facility at Nederburg is Qhubeka’s first in the Western Cape, endorsed by local government. It forms an integral part of Nederburg’s exclusive premium wine partnership with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, the pro-cycling team who is competing in World Tour races to improve lives in Africa. The squad rides to raise awareness and funds for Qhubeka, a non-profit organisation that uses bicycles to move communities forward by empowering and mobilising for socio-economic change. Bicycles are given to those that participate in various community programmes, ranging from community safety and environmental to healthcare and academic support.
“Communities with limited transport have restricted options, but bicycles are tools of change. With access to wheels comes a connection to opportunities,” says Ian Mills, Qhubeka’s programme director.
“Qhubeka is an Nguni word that means “to carry on” or “to move forward”. The name demonstrates exactly what we aim to do: help people to travel faster, further, carry more, be fitter and access more options, including healthcare and educational facilities. Bicycles also save people money they would have had to spend on other forms of transport. From keeping children in school, to helping whole communities to create new economic opportunities, bicycles are a simple, affordable and sustainable solution to some of Africa’s most pressing social problems.”
Expert bicycle mechanics, Bev Roode and Janine Johnson of Bicycles and Beyond (BAB) operate the bicycle assembly facility at Nederburg on behalf of Qhubeka. With many years under their belts working with bicycles, Roode and Johnson established the non-profit BAB in 2015 with the specific aim to empower communities by providing training in bicycle maintenance and riding. And this is exactly what they’re in the process of achieving at Nederburg, together with Qhubeka.
Four previously unemployed women from vulnerable communities that surround Nederburg have been expertly trained by Roode and Johson in bicycle assembly, maintenance and repair. They each earned a Qhubeka bicycle, and also get paid a monthly salary for the work they do at the facility.
The four women are: Jennilee September (31) from Smartie Town, Tammy Letoli (24) from Groenheuwel, as well as Feroska Sitter (35) and Georgina Simpson (33) from Chicago.
The first 50 bicycles assembled at Nederburg were recently distributed amongst volunteers of the Fairyland, Chicago and Hillside Neighbourhood Watch organisations that oversee community safety in the Paarl East area. These organisations operate with the support of VPUU (Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading) and the Drakenstein Municipality. With the help of bicycles, neighbourhood watch members can now cover more ground, get to emergency situations and flee from danger much quicker.
Each Qhubeka Buffalo bicycle comes with a helmet, a pump, a cable-lock and a utility tool for basic maintenance. All bicycle parts and accessories meet international standards.
Says Lynette Lambrechts, Nederburg global marketing manager: “This partnership, and the community projects that benefit from it, have provided Nederburg with an exciting platform to further invest in the future of South Africans.
“Transferring skills and building knowledge is a key priority for Nederburg. As one of South Africa’s most iconic wine brands, we believe that ongoing curiosity, inquiry and discovery are essential elements to successfully carry our core business of producing award-winning wines. With this ethos in mind, we endeavor to inspire others to learn more, to empower themselves and to continually look for ways in which to further their own life goals. The possibilities are almost endless. We at Nederburg are truly thrilled to be involved in this project, thereby helping Qhubeka to reach more people, and change more lives.
“We are asking consumers worldwide to spread the word, engage and participate in helping Nederburg make a difference to the lives of South Africans via Qhubeka. Go to the Qhubeka website to find out how to donate or even host your own fundraising in support of the project. And follow Qhubeka and Nederburg on social media to keep abreast of the latest news and developments,” she said.
Lambrechts also explained that the bicycle assembly facility at Nederburg will soon form part of the winery’s popular tour offered to visitors. It will also be used as a platform for team-building experiences, meetings and small conferences. Contact Katrin Cross at Nederburg on 021 862 3104 for more information in this regard.