For about 80% of the population in southern Africa, mainly in rural areas, walking is the most frequently used travelling option. The main objective of Velafrica is to help reduce poverty by providing access to bicycles and vocational training. Bicycles grant improved access to schools, health centres and hospitals and create income opportunities. Particularly for women, who need to cover long distances every day to collect water or firewood, bicycles offer a tremendous relief.
Velafrica has been operating in Burkina Faso since 1999. Demand for bicycles in this country is increasing continuously but the current structures and competences are no longer sufficient. Responding to the growing demand for qualitatively sound bicycles with a social enterprise approach that includes vocational training is the answer. That is why the bicycle hub in Burkina Faso aims to establish an innovative model combining business and social goals. Velafrica and the local organisational unit have the common goal to build a bicycle hub as a financially independent social enterprise. The hub will serve as a sales and distribution point, a production facility and service provider. As a competence centre for bicycle mobility, it will help to strengthen vocational training for bicycle mechanics and offer places for apprenticeships. The goal is to enhance the employment prospects of young adults by way of basic mechanical training with additional modules (eg French, accounting or IT). It will also seek to cooperate with the authorities and existing educational approaches.
GOALS AND EXPECTED IMPACT
- To establish a bicycle manufacturing centre as an independent social enterprise
- To strengthen the income and vocational training for young men and women as well as for mechanics in Burkina Faso, thus enhancing their employment prospects on the local job market
- To further refine the model of a scalable social bicycle hub and add on additional components
INVOLVEMENT OF SWISS RE EMPLOYEES
We are organising a charity rally around the world called "fast legs for smart youth". We will sponsor every kilometer Swiss Re employees, their friends and families run, hike, walk or bike starting 1 June until our goal of 40 000 kilometres is reached or the countdown of 40 days runs out. The full grant will be awarded to Velafrica if the minimum target of 40 000 kilometres is achieved.