Brussels Airlines embarks on its fifth edition of Bike for Africa, a five-day mountain bike tour to promote sustainable development in Rwanda, through the support of a selection of local entrepreneurs and organisations. From 31 January until 4 February, 52 employees from Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and Lufthansa will undertake a 330 km mountain bike tour through the northwestern provinces of Rwanda, around Lake Kivu.
Today, 52 employees from Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and Lufthansa set sail for Kigali for the fifth edition of Bike for Africa, an initiative in which they undertake a five-day mountain bike tour to raise support for local entrepreneurs and organisations. The mountain bikers will discover parts of the famous Congo Nile trail, cycling through the “Country of a Thousand Hills”.
“The overall goal of the initiative, which was launched by Brussels Airlines employees, is not only to collect money, but also use and share our skills and knowledge, more in particular in the area of Design Thinking as a methodology to foster innovation. It is the first time that the Bike for Africa crew does not only consist of mountain bikers, as a Design Thinking team also joins them to support local entrepreneurs.”
– Ilse Verhelst, CSR Manager Brussels Airlines
“As Africa is core to our business, Brussels Airlines and mainly its employees have a close bond to Africa. Taking our social responsibility and helping improve the conditions of the local communities is extremely important to us. Together with Help Alliance, the aid organisation of the Lufthansa Group, we aim to contribute to a better world every day. With Bike for Africa, we can drive this even further. It is by personally being involved in local initiatives that we try to push things forward and contribute to what we believe is the continent of the future.”
– Herman Carpentier, VP Aeropolitical Affairs Brussels Airlines
The main humanitarian project that Bike for Africa 2020 supports is the “Rwanda Charity Eye Hospital” founded by the Belgian ophthalmologist Piet Noë. One of the issues in Rwanda is the scarceness of ophthalmologists, only 14 for 12 million inhabitants. Piet, who invested all his savings in the hospital and asked friends & relatives to help with fundraising, opened the hospital in 2018 with the aim to provide eye care to all Rwandans who need it. The Bike for Africa group will visit the hospital on the last day of their stay and hand over funds that will allow the hospital to invest further in equipment.
Bike for Africa 2020 will also support two local companies – a coffee company and an animal feed producer – that are located on the mountain bike itinerary. With the help of ENABEL, the Belgian Development Agency, and LCF Fund Rwanda, a team of Brussels Airlines employees will help these companies with sustainable growth for their business, using their skills and knowledge, more in particular in the area of the Design Thinking methodology, which fosters users-centric innovation and entrepreneurship. On top, Bike for Africa 2020 will give both companies a financial push to help bring the ideas that were generated during the workshops, to life.
The fourth local project Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa Group and Eurowings colleagues are collecting money for – Berwa Kinunu – was set up by Odette Nyiramilimo, hostess of the Rushel Lodge in Kinunu and former Minister of Social Affairs in the Rwanda Government, and Senator. The project wants to help reintegrate very young single mothers in society by training them in a handicraft, hence providing them with an income. The girls now tailor school uniforms for children. Bike for Africa will provide them with yarn and cloth.
Brussels Airlines organised Bike for Africa for the first time in 2011 in Rwanda and Burundi to support SOS Children’s Villages. Three years later the mountain bikers cycled through Uganda and raised money for CoRSU Hospital in Kampala and United Fund for Belgium. By choosing the West-African countries Senegal and The Gambia for its third edition, Bike for Africa did not only focus on fundraising, but also increased awareness of the “Africa is not Ebola” initiative launched by the airline to rebuild the continent’s reputation after the Ebola outbreak. The latest edition, in 2018 was held in Cameroon and supported Mercy Ships as well as three other local and Belgian projects.