It’s all about the bike for young SA entrepreneur

Jeffrey Mulaudzi has not looked backed since he first seized the opportunity to build a business on the potential offered by the Fifa World Cup, hosted by South Africa in 2010. Just 18 at the time, Mulaudzi decided to offer bicycle tours of Alexandra, one of Johannesburg’s oldest townships, to the many tourists and sporting fans visiting the county. His business has proved sustainable and, today, Mulaudzi Bicycle Tours is ranked as one of the top five activities in Johannesburg by international travel website TripAdvisor, and has won him many awards.

The real deal

Mulaudzi, who has always had an interest in learning foreign languages, was studying French in 2010 when his tutor asked to be shown around Alexandra, a township outside Johannesburg. Mulaudzi, who was born and raised in Alexandra, decided the best way to show his tutor the “real” Alexandra would be by bicycle, which would allow him to interact with the community.After a successful tour with his tutor, Mulaudzi saw an opportunity in introducing his home to others – not just the usual tourism sites, but the lifestyle and people.He started by making tour brochures to hand out at hotels. “One day I went to an hotel and dropped my brochures off, and the concierge thanked me and then dropped them in the bin as I went out.”Luckily a guest waiting by the concierge saw him doing that and asked for one, which was rescued from the bin. He then called me for a tour for the next day.”With the money from his first tour, Mulaudzi started paying hotels to display his brochures and the investment very quickly paid off. The money he earned went towards buying more bicycles, so he could increase his tour numbers.

Promoting local culture

Today, Mulaudzi has three tour guides and hosts an average of three tours a week – although this fluctuates depending on the time of year. He is also seeing a growing number of South Africans take his tours to experience township life.Tours cost R200 (around $18) for two-and-a-half hours, or R400 ($37) for four hours. The cost includes bike hire, helmets, water, and lunch. Participants also get to taste umqombothi, a traditional African beer.Mulaudzi uses the tour to introduce people to Alexandra residents, giving them the opportunity to share their stories.”We make it so that there is communication … so that Alexandra residents can communicate with people from different countries, and visitors can see that they don’t have to be afraid of Alexandra, the place that we come from.”We are also people, and I want to show it’s not a place where you will come and be killed or something like that,” he says. “I want people to better understand and know what kind of people live in the township as well.”His tours also include an introduction to Alexandra’s history, with a visit to the infamous hostels erected by the apartheid government in the 1960s, and the home where Nelson Mandela once lived.Toursits also visit local businesses and shebeens, which helps bring in business for other entrepreneurs in the community.


Mulaudzi’s entrepreneurial success led him to win the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the 2013 South African Turkish Business Awards.He has also been named as one of the 12 finalists for the 2014 Anzisha Prize, a pan- African competition that recognises entrepreneurs between the ages of 15 and 22 who are using business to bring change to their communities.Mulaudzi says he has an “entrepreneurial heart” and, while his township tours are his first business, it will not be his last. He is looking for partners African Public Bicycles, which will allow people to rent bicycles to travel to a destination, leaving them there to be collected by the company.”At the moment the bicycles are costing around R60 to hire … and if it could be subsidised by a company … which could get advertising on the bicycle, I think it would be a very good thing.”His plan is to grow this model in South Africa and extend it across the border.”Bicycles are the best form of transport to see a country and interact with people. In a car you get stuck in traffic, and if you are walking you can’t cover as much distance. Bicycles make sense, and I think, when you think about traffic, we are going in that direction more and more as a continent.”

‘Never give up’

“Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but once you realise and understand that you are an entrepreneur, you must never ever give up,” Mulaudzi says. “Many people can start, but not many people can finish … but the only way you can finish what you started is to never give up.”He adds that entrepreneurs should consider every failure a lesson: “Entrepreneurship is not easy because you always start with losing. I have never read a book that was written by an entrepreneur that says it is easy and you just need to start and you will get money. Never. It’s all about investing and reinvesting … and learning from your mistakes.”


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E-bikes are taking off in SA

Cape Town and Durban have established bicycle lanes webbing out of their CBDs, and now Joburg is on track too, creating bicycle lanes in key parts of the city and Soweto.

Over 100km of safe-cycling routes are being demarcated to improve the city’s carbon footprint.

Thing is, not all of us are inclined or able to get those legs pumping on pedals all the way from home to work. Nor do we want to get into bicycle gear and arrive at the office all sweaty. So what’s the solution? It’s the electric bike.

There are tens of millions of electric bikes on the road in China, and sales have been surging in Europe, and lately, the US. In South Africa, however, the electric bike industry is still a fledgling, but as more bicycle lanes become available, and commuters catch on to the idea, the “e-bike” is likely to become a far more visible feature in our cities.

“A lot more people are buying electric bikes than in the past, and now that the Joburg metro has committed to cycle lanes, I believe the market will grow exponentially,” says Terry Gormley, owner of Pedego, a nationwide e-bike retailer selling nine different styles priced between R24 700 and R36 700.

In the meantime, from Pedego’s Cycle Lab megastore in Fourways, Gormley is targeting greater Joburg’s swanky housing estate complexes, as many of them have cycle paths and make ideal cycling environments.


“There is still a perception that cycling amid city traffic is dangerous, understandably so, but as awareness among motorists grows, it will become safer. Bike safety rules apply, of course, so you always wear a helmet,” he says.

A prominent e-bike retailer in Joburg is Cycology, which started selling high-quality electric bikes last year. Ten different styles are available, ranging in price from R14 000 to R35 000 and marketed mostly in Sandton, Fourways and Rosebank.

Cycology is partnered with the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) and Solid Green Consulting in a campaign called Decongest, which has been lobbying for cycle lanes and a corporate-backed e-bike leasing scheme, supported by lock-and-charge bike stations in Sandton’s bigger office complexes.

“So far we’ve sold more than 175 bikes in the Joburg area,” says Cycology owner Vincent Truter. “In 2015 we will release 155 electric bikes to lease as part of the bike leasing scheme in and around Sandton. To support this scheme, we’ve got 11 corporate lock-and-charge stations, so the trend in Sandton will be fuelled by corporate employees.”


Truter says Cycology is targeting the higher LSM (living standards measure) market “because this will create the behaviour change and fuel the desire to ride these bikes”. He adds: “If corporate workers are seen riding electric bikes to work, it’s an assurance to the broader public that green modes of transport are the way to go.”

The most established electric bike retailer is eZee, which has been around for seven years and has a countrywide presence, selling top-end e-bikes for between R22 000 and R27 000, or you can buy a R14 500 kit (battery, controller and rear or front wheel) that can be fitted on any bike. “We import the bikes from China to Cape Town and distribute from here. The market is still quite small but it’s definitely growing,” says owner James Swift.

Still, if electric bikes are going to really become part of our city landscapes, the lower LSM group also needs to get a look in. From his warehouse in Cleveland, east of the city, Johnny Nelson, the owner of eBike South Africa, is selling three different bikes: the X-Trail, Hopper and Ezrider, costing between R7800 and R14 500. He also has agents in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria, and can deliver a bike to your door.

“We’ve sold quite a few already, but when the bike lanes are in place around Braamfontein, Wits University, the SABC, the University of Johannesburg and Soweto, we expect a steady increase in sales. They are particularly useful for students because they are so cheap to run,” says Nelson.

On average, an e-bike gives you more than 60km travelling distance. It is powered by a lithium battery, which you can recharge overnight. The bike comes with a charger pack, which looks like a laptop charger, and you need to charge it for between three and six hours, depending on the type of bike.

Electric bikes are quiet and emit zero emissions. They cost less than 50 cents electricity for every 100km travelled. Compare this to the fuel consumption and pollution caused by vehicles, and you can immediately see the advantage of them in terms of savings and carbon footprint, not to mention the health benefits.

In China and Europe, workplaces have charging stations at key points in cities, and although this hasn’t been mooted here yet, if enough commuters turn to electric bikes to escape congestion and drive down their transport costs, such charging stations might well be seen in the future. “You can lock an e-bike the same way you lock an ordinary bike,” assures Nelson.

“Greening the environment is becoming a priority, and electric bikes are going to be a big part of this. They’re also healthier. Studies have shown that cycling is good for everything from your heart to your stress levels and your immune system,” he says.


If you’re not sure you can still ride a bike, a good way to test yourself on one is to go on an electric bike tour. Cycology runs a weekly tour through the Sandton CBD, visiting “green” buildings in the area such as those of Ernst & Young, Alexander Forbes and Nedbank, while for Capetonians, there’s a tour starting at the Mount Nelson hotel. Pedego offers e-bike tours in Cape Town and Durban, where it is based.

I recently took the Cycology tour, led by Jarrod Lewin, business development manager at the GBCSA, and was pleasantly surprised to find that within 15 minutes of tootling up and down the carpark at the GBCSA complex, I knew the tricks to riding an e-bike.

Your first instinct is to pedal, but you soon get used to twisting the throttle, which can make the bike go as fast as 32km/h. You should pedal on the upslopes, because it takes the strain off the battery and you get in some exercise, but you don’t have to.

Once on the busy streets of Sandton, I found the greatest challenge was getting used to the bigger vehicles whizzing past, some too close for comfort, but Lewin assured our five-strong group that motorists are aware of us, and as long as we obeyed the road rules and hugged the left verge, we’d be fine. Towards the end, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Still, I’m not sure I’d tackle a trip into the CBD.

Source: IOL

Green Capital: The City of Tshwane’s Green Economy Strategic Framework

GBJ 10 (2014)

By Alistair Schorn

As South Africa’s capital city, the City of Tshwane has recognised and embraced its responsibility to play a leading role in the transition of the county’s major cities and metropolitan areas to low-carbon, climate- resilient and resource-efficient models of development. This is clearly demonstrated in the development of the City’s Green Economy Strategic Framework, and its alignment with the City of Tshwane Vision 2055.

As with any initiative at the level of local government this framework was developed in alignment with the national economic development context. In this regard, the South African government has for a number of years recognised the green economy as a significant catalyst for employment creation, and socially equitable and environmentally responsible economic development. More specifically, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs states that the green economy refers in particular to two interlinked developmental outcomes for the South African economy, namely:

  • Growth in economic activity (leading investment, employment and competitiveness) in identified green industry sectors;
  • An overall shift in economic activity towards cleaner industries and sectors that have a low environmental impact compared to their socio-economic impact.

In line with these imperatives, the government has implemented a number of policy measures which aim to promote a transition to a green economy. These include the National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path, the Green Economy Accord and most recently, the National Development Plan that was released in 2012.

In the context of these national policy measures, strategies and plans, the implementation of South Africa’s green economy transition has been to the level of a significant degree decentralised to provincial and local government level. As a result, the City of Tshwane has identified a requirement to develop a city-specific Green Economy Strategic Framework, which reinforces national policy and provincial policy in this area.

What is a green economy and how can we get there?

In developing the Green Economy Strategic Framework for Tshwane, the City’s government has adopted the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) definition of a green economy, namely “one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”

From the City’s perspective, therefore, the essence of a green economy lies in the following:

  • Improved human well-being;
  • Improved social equity;
  • Reduced environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

It is therefore imperative that a green economy transition can de-couple economic development from resource consumption and environmental impacts, and enable inclusive growth through a more equal distribution of wealth and access to ecological goods and services such as clean air and water.

It should also enable improved human health and well-being, through enhancing the quality and quantity of these goods and services, as well as the quantity and quality of public infrastructure and services such as transportation, education and civil services.

If implemented effectively, a green economy can offer a new economic path to sustainable development, in which the spheres of technology, economy, society and ecology are embedded in each other and are underpinned by systems of good governance.

Sustainable development and the green economy (adapted from the National Strategy for Sustainable Development).

This understanding of a green economy provides the broader context for the development of the City of Tshwane’s Strategic Framework.

The successful implementation of this Framework, and the resulting transition to a green economy, will require that the City makes best use of its inherent competitive advantages, to develop a highly appropriate, resource-efficient, low-carbon and inclusive programme.

The City of Tshwane

Tshwane is of course located in the north of Gauteng, and comprises over one-third of the province’s area. It has a population of 2, 92 million and a population density of 4 634 people per km2.

Tshwane exhibits a diversity of land uses, including residential (rural and urban), agricultural, natural open, industrial and commercial. Much of Tshwane is currently urbanised, although significant potential exists for agricultural production in less urbanised regions. Over the past several decades, Tshwane has experienced rapid economic growth and development, resulting in significant urban sprawl, which presents a growing challenge in terms of basic services, infrastructure and housing.

One of the objectives of the Strategic Framework is of new and existing projects and programmes to be included in the City of Tshwane’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) in the next planning cycle. The IDP for 2011–2016 has made significant improvements in livelihoods by addressing service backlogs and poverty through improving the availability and universal accessibility of essential public services (such as housing, water, sanitation, education and health care). The next IDP will therefore need to continue with service delivery roll-out, while at the same time focusing on the development of integrated solutions that reduce resource consumption and the generation of pollution and waste, while opening up new opportunities for green jobs and green economic growth.

The Strategic Framework will help to inform the City of Tshwane’s medium to long-term green economy objectives. It also forms part of the Tshwane 2055 initiative, which is a long-term strategy for improving the quality of living across the metropolitan area, revitalising the city, boosting economic development and attracting investment. It aims to articulate the City of Tshwane’s vision, game-changing interventions, indicators and outcomes.

In this regard, Tshwane 2055 has the following six identified outcomes:

  • A resilient and resource-efficient city;
  • A growing economy that is inclusive, diversified and competitive;
  • Quality infrastructure development that supports liveable communities;
  • An equitable city that supports happiness, social cohesion, safety and healthy citizens;
  • An African capital city that promotes excellence and innovative governance solutions;
  • An activist citizenry that is engaging, aware of their rights and present themselves as partners in tackling societal challenges.

The Tshwane Green Economy Strategic Framework is aimed at addressing primarily the first of these objectives, namely the development of a resilient and resource-efficient city. It will also contribute to achievement of the second objective, particularly in the area of economic inclusivity.

The Tshwane Green Economy Strategic Framework

The development process for the Framework included extensive internal consultation with relevant City officials, and significant support and participation were received from local UNEP representatives. Based upon this process, the principal drivers of the green economy were identified as a response to the growing economic and environmental crises that demand a new green economic model for the following:

  • Resource efficiency: the efficient use of natural resources to reduce the generation of waste and pollutants;
  • Low-carbon development: the use of innovation and increased investment in low-carbon technologies and solutions; and
  • Inclusive growth: the creation of green jobs and the greening of service delivery to ensure more equitable and inclusive growth with a focus on the poor.

It was decided that the focus areas or themes of the Strategic Framework should be action-based and aligned with existing green economy initiatives and strategies. These themes were accordingly finalised in March 2013, and were divided into two principal categories or clusters, namely mitigation and adaptation.Within each of these themes, the status quo and challenges were described to give context and perspective. Known challenges and barriers to developing the City’s green economy were used to formulate aspirations, objectives and appropriate actions for each theme.

These were incorporated into an initial draft of the Strategic Framework that was reviewed and finalised by the City of Tshwane’s Sustainability Office.

Thematic action areas

Under each of the mitigation and adaptation clusters, the Framework identifies the following specific thematic action areas, as follows:

1. Transitioning to a low-carbon city (mitigation)

  • Pollution and waste management – reduction and effective management of waste streams, including solid waste, wastewater and air pollution;
  • Integrated water resource management – coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources;
  • Green buildings and built environment – the development of a green built environment in the City, including spatial planning and public service infrastructure, with due consideration of national initiatives in this area;
  • Sustainable transport and improved mobility – improved efficiency and sustainability in transport systems and infrastructure, and the creation of an enabling environment for green transport initiatives;
  • Sustainable energy – including initiatives, in line with various national policies and programmes in the field.

2. Building a resilient and resource-efficient city (adaptation)

  • Maintenance and provision of ecosystem goods and services – protection and enhancement of ecosystem goods and services, with due consideration of ecological limits and rates of replenishment;
  • Sustainable agriculture and food security – creation of sustainable food supply systems which maintain and enhance the ecological integrity of land and other natural resources;
  • Sustainable communities (health and social development) – promotion of a vibrant citizenry and a healthy, skilled workforce that contributes to improved wellbeing and social cohesion.

For each of these themes, a set of overall aspirations, strategic objectives and appropriate actions were developed for the Framework.

Specific mitigation actions include the following: reducing emissions from buildings; improving mobility and providing low-carbon mass transport options; reducing the generation of waste and encouraging product re-use, recycling and material recovery; promoting integrated planning and land use; improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy supply options; and encouraging the efficient use and management of water and other natural resources.

The adaptation actions include: main- streaming environmental priorities and carrying out biodiversity assessments to inform development plans; supporting and expanding government public works programmes to incorporate payment for an ecosystem services approach, enhancing the skills and knowledge in agro-ecology, enhancing local urban and peri-urban food production for increased food security; and providing services and facilities that enable a safe and healthy environment while enhancing opportunities for improved connectivity and social cohesion and human wellbeing.

A number of specific methods of implementation were identified to promote the establishment of a green economy in the City, including the following:

  • Investing strategically in green innovation and technology;
  • Defining a new economic base for a green economy; and
  • Developing partnerships between government, business, labour and civil society.

In terms of these implementation methods, the Framework identifies the financial constraints under which the City (and in fact all municipalities) operate, as a potential inhibitor of transition to a green economy, and it acknowledges the necessity for effective public-private partnerships to overcome this obstacle.

Furthermore, the Framework refers to the possible use of municipal fiscal policy, in the form of both incentives and disincentives, as an effective method of catalysing the growth of a green economy in the city.

A final element of the Framework, included as an Appendix, outlines the City’s targets for various measures and initiatives for a green economy as derived from national and provincial targets in these areas.

These include areas such as the installation of solar water heaters, the creation of green jobs, public sector investment in green economy sectors such as renewable energy and sustainable transportation, energy efficiency targets, waste reduction targets and the implementation of appropriate sustainability standards such as those for green buildings.

The City of Tshwane’s transition to a green economy will require a fundamental change in the established economic system, from one based on increasing exploitation of natural resources to fulfil the growing demands for material consumption, to one that can ensure sustainable and equitable growth within the ecological limits of Tshwane and the region.

Achieving this shift will require effective integrated planning, robust policy signals, good governance and high levels of accountability on the part of the City’s management. It will also require investment in new skills, research in innovation and green technologies, and a new mindset for doing business.

The Green Economy Strategic Framework provides a means to achieve these objectives, by outlining the suite of strategies and actions that are required to facilitate the City’s transition to a green economy and a sustainable development path.