Shova Kalula is an initiative in South Africa to promote cycling in rural communities. I had the privilege of being the client project manager for the pilot projects for this initiative in KwaZulu-Natal in early 2000. The pilots involved setting up a bicycle sales and repair micr-business in a rural community and training up a local entrepreneur to make the business self sustaining. I have posted previously on the initiative in March 2010
On my recent visit to South Africa I was driving past Izingolweni and thought I would see whether the one pilot project is still running. I was very pleased to see that Lucky Ngcobo was still running his shop. When Lucky saw me drive up he greeted me with a big embrace and a question as to where I had been for the last 6 years.
It was very good to see Lucky after so long and see that he is still making his business work despite the obstacles in finding reliable suppliers and avoiding being burgled. He has expanded the business to include doing minor repairs to cars. The business is by no means a fancy operation. He runs it in an old abandoned railway station with no electricity, running water or windows. His customers can barely afford basic necessities, but their bicycles are treasured possessions, as they give them affordable mobility. And this is what makes this business so important. For 13 years Lucky has given the residents of this small town and the surrounding subsistence and commercial farming areas the opportunity to be able to affordably get to school, shops, social services etc. Small subsistence farmers can transport their produce to sell at the bus/taxi rank, or cart fertilizer back to their lands.
Well done Lucky - may you name continue to ring true!