Last month, more than 2,500 of the world’s most influential leaders from the private and public sectors gathered in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2015.
Every year, WEF brings together leaders from business, government, international organizations, academia and civil society to facilitate open and strategic dialogue on initiatives impacting the world. During this year’s three-day meeting, attendees participated in The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education, a collaboration between Swiss financial services company UBS and World Bicycle Relief in association with the World Economic Forum.
For every cumulative six kilometers walked by attendees of the Forum, UBS and the UBS Optimus Foundation committed to donating a Buffalo Bicycle to a student in South Africa. Why 6km? It’s the distance half a million students in South Africa walk to school every day – a distance that creates a huge barrier to education and their future opportunity.
The first 1,000 participants to sign up for the challenge were given Fitbit wireless activity bands to track meters walked. To further engage participants, The Davos Challenge website provided a live ticker showing cumulative distance walked and bikes donated, along with program information and suggested daily walking routes to keep those meters up!
I’m walking to help students in South Africa so they aren’t tired when they get to school and they can concentrate on [their] education. - UBS Chairman Alex Weber
Attendee response to the challenge was incredibly positive. 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. WBR’s Founder and President, F.K. Day, was also featured in a radio interview with U.K.-based Monocle.
Listen to the radio interview on Monocle with F.K. Day >
In total, The Davos Challenge participants walked 12,341,451 meters. That’s over 12,000 kilometers and more than enough for UBS to meet their goal of donating 2,500 bicycles! We’re grateful to UBS for recognizing the barrier of distance faced by students in rural Africa and bringing awareness to bicycles as a simple, sustainable solution.
At Davos, our message was driven home in such a meaningful way. Seeing so many people walking for education was extraordinary and something we won’t soon forget. Because of the challenge, thousands of CEOs, politicians, global leaders and journalists learned how a single bicycle can change the life of a student and ultimately an entire community.
2,500 Buffalo Bicycles will be distributed through our Bicycle Education Empowerment Programme (BEEP) in South Africa. In addition, UBS Optimus Foundation will sponsor a study to measure the impact of the bicycles distributed through the Challenge, tracking the effects of the program on educational outcomes.
Thank you to everyone who participated in The Davos Challenge. We truly showed what can happen when we all work – and walk – together for The Power of Bicycles!