Tell us about Ride Africa; what it is and what you’re hoping to achieve with the project?
Ride Africa is the brand but the one we’re doing in July 2019 is in Kenya, so we’ve called it Ride Kenya. It’s a 500km cycle ride in Kenya and it takes place over five days. Participants cycle 100km a day for five days, and then the sixth day of the ride is spent visiting one of the Child.org’s project for the riders.
So we have up to 70 riders take part in the ride, and it’s a way they can take on a challenge, so someone who hasn’t done the challenge before, marathons and things like that, they can do something that’s a bit different. The reason for going overseas to do it is so you can go and visit one of the projects, so the riders actually get to see the impact of what they’re doing. It’s a really supportive atmosphere; we find a lot of our first-time riders tend to do it again, like more than once, a lot of people go on three or four I think.
But also, it’s a bit addictive in a weird way and then no person gets left behind either, so when you hear from them after the ride, they’re always like there’s loads of camaraderie, they’re super enthusiastic about Child.org projects and also really proud of what they’ve all just achieved
And what about the history of the Ride Africa programme.
We created the Ride scheme about 10 years ago. It originally started off as something called Making Tracks and then it morphed into Ride Africa and we’ve done them in Ghana and Uganda. And our most recent one obviously is in Kenya. That’s probably our most exciting one so far because, obviously, you get to cycle through Kenya, and the country is just really, really beautiful. Our participants get to cycle through the Rift Valley, which again, you can just see for miles so incredible, that’s the first day I think you get to see that. You get to cycle through Nairobi, through a national park and then the most recent one literally like there’s a video of one our colleagues cycling and some zebras just run across the road in front of him.
One of the riders got some giraffes running alongside them. It’s spectacular and it made us all want to do it even though it seems hard. The views and everything just, yeah, it looks incredible. We had our biggest ride last year, we had 85 people take part in our November ride which was huge. And they raised over £250,000 on that ride.
So the money that is being raised, what does that go towards?
We’re currently launching our Mothers and Child programming, so we’re raising funding for, and launching a whole series of Mother and New Born Baby programming this year and that will go towards launching that area of programme of which #TeamMum is part, so the upcoming ride will be raising money specifically for the first thing that #TeamMum programming is going to launch.
Often the money that our rides raise is unrestricted and then we’ll send the riders a report a year later, on what we’ve spent the money on. Most recently, our rides have been attended by some of our corporate partners, so businesses use it as a way to kind of send their team on this bonding journey together which is obviously a really nice way to do it. One of our partners, First of All Public, they’ve done three rides now, every two years, and they send their MD as well as maybe up to 30 members of their team get to go, so it’s all quite incredible but they love it and they’ve done it three times.
We see it as a way to work with businesses and large corporates because they’re getting team bonding out of it and it’s all kind of challenge the individuals as well and then they’re also getting to do something for charity. So that’s always really nice. And then our ride in July will be the first ever all women’s ride. Never done that before so really, really excited and since we’ve launched #TeamMum, it’s just been incredible. We’re working with around 120 brands which influences businesses who are supporting #TeamMum and then we’ve got some of them coming on the ride in July as well.
So the #TeamMum ride is in July 2019, and there’s an aim around women’s health during pregnancy and during childbirth, is that right?
Yes, one of the ideas is around getting women into hospitals in Kenya to give birth rather than outside of medical facilities. We’re trying to raise awareness, as well as raise money. #TeamMum is aiming to launch pregnancy support groups in Kenya. In Kenya one in 26 babies die before they reach their first birthday which is an appalling statistic. Kenya is very developed but this is an area where it’s really lagging behind some of its other goals, particularly in health which is why Child.org who worked in Kenya for such a long time, are really making this an organisational priority.
And in Meru, which is the area where riders end up at the end of their cycle ride and they’re going to meet some of these women. Women are very isolated and they’re living quite far out of reach of health services that are quite sporadic and often quite poorly managed, and they’re not being reached with health information. One of the mums we met on our last ride, Ruth, told us that when she had her first baby, she just didn’t know anything about babies, she said she had the baby at home, it didn’t even really occur to her to go to a hospital to seek post-natal care. When the baby was two weeks old he started crying and she thought, oh maybe he’s hungry and she tried to give him a banana. She told us things like “I just wish I’d known, I wouldn’t have given my baby a banana when he was two weeks old”. They just don’t have access to the right information and so what we’d really like to raise awareness of, and show with the campaign, is actually how simple some of those solutions are.
One of the really nice things that people love about doing Ride Africa with Child.org is we’re a very small organisation; we’ve only got 20 staff so when you take part in Ride Africa and you’re a part of raising that big chunk of money the impact that you have on our organisation and our programming is so immediate and so massive, this is something that doesn’t exist in Meru at the moment and it’s something we’re going to launch with Ride Africa so we’re very excited about it.
#TeamMum is an all-woman challenge. Why is that? Other than the focus on childbirth and health in Kenya, are there other outcomes that you’re looking for from it being an all-woman challenge?
Yeah, it’s a really exciting opportunity. There are lots of reasons for us to have an all-women event. There’s a really big appetite for an all-women event in cycling communities at the moment if you’re just chancing to brands at cycling events, they’re really keen on it. A Women’s Festival of Cycling launched last year and there’s also just demand for female leadership development and also women networking opportunities. So, as a sort of business decision having an all-female Ride Africa makes sense. And something that’s exciting about that is for a really long time there’s been this area of business networking and leadership that has been quite male-exclusive around sports fundraising, with men on the golf course, and there’s just this massive opportunity with there being a space like that for women in sports fundraising I think.
We’re all really excited about the opportunity of getting all these women leaders together to meet each other, to do something as a group, and #TeamMum, the campaign is really about that so we’re really excited to be working with loads of different really cool businesses that are doing cool female-led stuff.
Cuckooz Nest is a great example, they’re doing networking spaces that work for women and that have creches, and there are other companies like Clary and Peg who are designing maternity wear that is modern and looks cool and it’s these cool parent companies who are filling the gaps in the parenting space in the UK.
If you’re working in a company you feel like your company’s talking a lot about female leadership and valuing female staff members and giving those opportunities, then this is an opportunity for companies to put their money where their mouth is really and making that actually happen. What Ride Africa has is that doing something positive in the world angle, which I really think is something that people are looking for now in their day-to-day jobs.
How do people get involved? If they want to sign up, if they want to do the bike ride – how do they get involved?
The first thing I recommend is watching our video because it’ll make them definitely want to do it. And then they can go to rideafrica.org where they can sign up to register their interest for the ride. Or if they’re feeling brave, they can just pay for it then and there and go on it. We’ve got around 70 spaces for the July ride.
People can also visit child.org/teammum if they’re interested in the campaign but that a cycle ride is not for them, but if anyone’s keen on getting involved in the campaign we’ve have lots of other ways to do that.
People can get in touch with us, email us, call us, ask us any questions, if they’re a business we’re happy to go in and talk to them about it; we’re really hands-on with our ride approach, we like to go in and chat to people and give them a run-down of what it’s going to be like. And then, once they’ve paid for it – the price includes everything except the flight, so it includes luxury accommodation, so they get their bikes, they get food, they get medical support, transfers, snacks and all that kind of stuff, it’s all included.
So once they’re there they don’t have to worry about anything, it’s all paid for and then we do obviously ask them to fundraise as well and a huge announcement for the July ride is that all of the money that the money raised during the #TeamMum campaign, is going to get doubled. We’ve got an exciting announcement coming in February about who will be doubling the contributions, but you can rest assured that any money raised will be doubled.
Tell us a little more about some of the partners you’re working with on #TeamMum.
The main one for the July ride is Cuckooz Nest just because they’re super involved. As a partner they’ve been amazing. Our brands just align really well. Cuckooz Nest, they offer co-working spaces dedicated for new mums with a creche on-site which is amazing, it’s such a good idea because if you’re a working parent and you don’t want to be dropping your child off and then going somewhere else to work, it just makes life a lot easier. They’ve been wanting to work with a children’s charity for a while now and they just really love the idea of Ride Africa and when we told them all about #TeamMum, they got even more enthusiastic, and their main aim is to support families, make it easier for them to be a family and also be working parents.
That’s kind of what businesses are going towards at the moment as well, especially start-ups and newer kind of companies who understand like, again, a lot of them might be working parents who have had these issues come up so they’re kind of passionate about supporting it. So it’s really nice when a business just gets it and can support you in that capacity, because, again, a lot of big, big companies can’t really do that, but then like we said Festival Republic, they’ve supported us for over 10 years and again, they just get it and they understand we’re not a huge charity but they know they can do a lot for us and they can instantly see the difference that they’re making when they go on things like Ride.