Golfing legend Gary Player and Coca-Cola, the presenting sponsor of the Gary Player Invitational (GPI), recently visited the impoverished Buffelsdraai community in KwaZulu-Natal to announce an estimated R1 million donation to assist with the work of the Wildlands Conservation Trust.
“At Wildlands our aim is to uplift rural and peri-urban communities through the creation of “green jobs” for the poor and to restore the natural environment of these communities. One of our successes is a waste-preneur programme which sees members of the community barter their recycling in exchange for bicycles, building materials and food,” commented Widlands CEO, Dr Andrew Venter.
Gary Player, who has long been a dedicated environmentalist whose philosophy in his business operations has always been to respect the land and its natural beauty and biodiversity, was joined by Lucas Radebe, Coca-Cola representatives and several media when he visited the Wildlands project in Buffelsdraai in November this year. The visit also involved the presentation of Coca-Cola bicycles to the country’s 10 top waste-preneurs, for their efforts in each collecting 3 000kgs of recyclable waste.
As the 10 top waste-preneurs were handed their bright, red, shiny bicycles the expressions on their faces of complete joy, reflected what something as simple as a bicycle, which we take for granted, means to a person in an impoverished community, and it ultimately means improved access to work and education.
Wildlands will use its estimated R1 million donation to buy 665 bicycles supplied by Qhubeka, a fellow KwaZulu-Natal non-profit organisation dedicated to using bicycles to provide a cost effective, healthy and effective mobility solution for South Africa’s communities. Wildlands has worked with Qhubeka to develop a ‘Bikes for Life’ model, through which green-preneurs either barter their recycling for bicycles or are rewarded with a bicycle for their exceptional effort. The bicycles are assembled in Pietermaritzburg through a partnership between Wildlands, Qhubeka and World Bicycle Relief.
Coca-Cola selected Wildlands as a major beneficiary because its goals are strongly aligned to the company’s ‘Live for a Difference’ campaign, which focuses on entrepreneurship and recycling. “Our commitment, through our ‘Live for a Difference’ sustainability programme, is to making a positive difference in the world by redesigning the way we work and live so that sustainability is part of everything we do. We are using our partnership with the Gary Player Invitational to push this agenda,” said Bill Egbe, the President of Coca-Cola South Africa.
By supporting Wildlands, Coca-Cola is also able to demonstrate its commitment to climate protection and active healthy living. “The bicycles, as a form of transport, will contribute to the reduction of the community’s carbon footprint and enable its members to remain actively involved in a form of physical activity,” said Egbe.
The South African GPI, which features Major golf champions, celebrities and top-flight businessmen rubbing shoulders on the fairways, is the final of the four-tournament international series that includes the United Kingdom, United States, and China. Throughout its history the GPI series has raised more than R250-million for its beneficiaries worldwide.