UBS, a Swiss financial services company, maintains community investment programs that focus on supporting education and entrepreneurship. These two themes align with their core business and present ample opportunities for generating meaningful impact. Through strategic partnerships with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises, UBS seeks to make a sustainable impact on education access around the world. “All children should have access to education and the opportunity to learn,” says Axel Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Corporate Responsibility Committee at UBS. “In our view, we have a great responsibility to children, and also a responsibility to our shareholders to ensure that our philanthropic activities are highly impactful.”
UBS saw an opportunity to bring worldwide attention to their corporate giving program during the 2015 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In partnership with World Bicycle Relief, UBS developed The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education. Each participant in the challenge walked 6 km per day – the average distance walked to school by over 500,000 students in South Africa. For every 6 km walked, UBS committed to donating one Buffalo Bicycle to a South African student.
The first 1,000 Davos Challenge participants received Fitbits to track individual progress. Suggested walking routes provided guidance to achieving 6 km a day. Participants were kept engaged through a live ticker showing the project’s progress, which was impressive. As Davos Challengers walked over 12,000km, UBS successfully met their goal of donating 2,500 Buffalo Bicycles.
The format of the challenge brought the rural African student experience to life, making it a meaningful exercise in empathy. Attendees who “walked a day in a student’s shoes” had an incredibly positive response to the experience. Business leaders and journalists from around the globe stopped by to talk about WBR’s work and learn more about the Buffalo BIcycle. Dozens of media outlets wrote about The Davos Challenge and the impact of WBR’s work, including CNN, USA Today, Huffington Post, and numerous international outlets from Germany, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, and South Korea.The Davos Challenge also broadened WBR’s field research opportunities. UBS sponsored and laid the groundwork for studies to track and measure educational outcomes to help programs like World BIcycle Relief’s scale successfully across Africa.
By demonstrating the value and impact of bicycles as a solution, these studies will prove the efficacy of our programs with the goal to unleash other similar corporate engagement.
Are you looking for a philanthropic partnership or project that will uses the power of empathy to make an incredible impact? Together, we can develop a strategic partnership plan that reflects your corporate interests and business strategy while providing life-changing transportation that moves more communities forward.