Gryphons Abroad Initiative

In a groundbreaking development, the University of Leeds and the Bambisanani Partnership have joined forces to create a dedicated cycle hub. This hub will empower thousands of children in rural South Africa to learn how to ride and maintain bicycles.

Since 2016, the University of Leeds and the Bambisanani Partnership have successfully implemented the Cycling to Success program at Mnyakanya High School in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). This initiative has already taught nearly 200 young individuals safe cycling and bike maintenance, benefiting the wider community. Moreover, the program has introduced a bike rental scheme, enabling learners who reside far from school to conveniently commute. The project has received widespread acclaim, with World Champion professional cyclist Lizzie Diegan MBE generously contributing her own equipment to support it.

Lizzie Deignan (courtesy of JoJo Harper)

Expanding Horizons

The program’s vision has always been to expand and extend its impact to other schools in the region. This would allow the program to reach more children and equip them with invaluable life skills. Over the past two years, the University of Leeds and the Bambisanani Partnership have been collaborating with the highly regarded cycling non-governmental organization (NGO), KZN Cycling, to identify opportunities for collaboration and expand the project across numerous schools throughout the year.

Cycling to Success

The Cycling to Success program, initially introduced in the remote Nkandla region, has made a tremendous difference. In an area where children routinely undertake a two-hour walk to and from school each day, the bicycles have become indispensable modes of transportation, sources of recreation, tools for informal sports, and even fitness training aids for the local football team. Furthermore, other rural communities expressed interest in joining the initiative, but logistical constraints prevented their participation. The partnership with KZN Cycling significantly enhances the capacity to bring cycling, along with its transformative benefits, to these communities.


A New Cycling Hub

In recent developments, the Bambisanani Partnership and KZN Cycling have inked a three-year agreement valued at over £50,000 to establish a cycling hub in South Africa’s Nkandla region. This hub will employ a local community member to oversee school cycle programs, organize community clinics, and coordinate races and events across the area. The new facility will enable 5,000 young individuals annually to acquire biking and mechanical skills. All while serving as a talent identification program for the KZN-Cycling performance pathway. This newfound partnership presents an exciting opportunity to empower the youth of Nkandla and serves as a blueprint for future programs and projects.

Andrew Lockwood, Assistant Head of Sport said:

We are all excited to develop this new partnership. A cycling hub like this, run by the community, for the community is development at its best. We have already seen the significant impact our cycling projects have had in Nkandla; this expansion is great news and I am sure will make a long-term impact on those who benefit from it.

Alec Lenferna, Chief Executive Officer of KZN Cycling, stated:

We’ve always believed that we have a good programme in place across all eleven districts in the province, and every year we have tens of thousands of youngsters that get included in the various elements, but the new agreement that has been put in place with the Bambisanani Partnership not only endorses the hard work being done by all, but more significantly, allows for longer term strategic planning linked to elements that are going to positively impact on the lives of the people of the Nkandla region. For people in the deep rural areas of KZN, bikes and the linked opportunities that bikes have are life changing. If there were more organisations like the Bambisanani Partnership that got behind development programmes like this, whether here or elsewhere in the world, there would be more smiles on more faces every day…

David Geldart, CEO and Founder of the Bambisanani Partnership, had this to say:

I am absolutely delighted to have signed this agreement to work in partnership with KZN Cycling. Our own cycling programmes in the deep rural areas have been a resounding success and it is a wonderful opportunity to be now collaborating with KZN Cycling to bring cycling to thousands more young people. Significantly, this work will also involve the KZN Department of Education and the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation who we have worked closely with for many years. Massive thanks must go to Andy and Alec for working tirelessly to create this pioneering programme.

With final preparations now underway the first children will be participating in the programme by early June of this year.