As a teen, Jeffrey Mulaudzi’s obsession with bicycles got him arrested for stealing one.
But now the 22-year-old from Alexandria township in Johannesburg, South Africa, is a proud owner of a bike sharing company that employs six other people and provide bike tours for tourists who want to visit Alexandria.
Mulaudzi seized the opportunity to build a bicycle sharing business during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, hosted in South Africa. Since then he has been offering tours to one of Johannesburg’s oldest townships to tourists and sporting fans visiting the country, South Africa.info reported.
“My first arrest was for stealing a bike. And to see where a bike has gotten me now is another different story. That I was in a prison cell because of a bike and now I’m employing six people from what I was arrested of,” he told DW.
His business has grown from being advertised on brochures in budget hotels in Johannesburg to being included in packages on global travel websites including Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet.
Mulaudzi has also included a bike sharing social venture for students in rural areas who live far from schools they attend. Students in the countryside have to walk as much as eight kilometers every day to school and back.
The social venture is supported by companies in the school’s locality, who underwrite to maintain the bicycles. He plans to make it sustainable by selling advertising space on the bikes to these companies as he spreads his model across the country.
“You can give them the bicycles to go with at home, but they will not maintain the bicycles. It’s much better to keep the bicycles in one point where you can fix them and help the student arrive in time at school,” Mulaudzi said.
“The next coming five years my plan is spread across Limpompo, which is a province here in South Africa, and finding a solution on the sustainability of the project.”