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UBS and the World Economic Forum reach the goal to donate 2500 bikes to children in South Africa

Zurich / Basel Media Releases Global

Zurich/Basel, 24 January 2015 – UBS and the World Economic Forum have achieved the goal they set for the Davos Meeting, to donate 2,500 specially designed bicycles to children in rural South Africa to help them get to school and improve learning outcomes. The target was reached through the program, The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education, which asked participants to walk as many steps at the Meeting, as a child may have to walk to get to school in rural South Africa. The bicycles will be provided by World Bicycle Relief, a not-for-profit organization operating throughout Africa for ten years improving access to education and increasing learning outcomes by reducing travel time for children.  

Poor transport infrastructure combined with long distances to school mean that many children in Africa are not getting an adequate education and therefore are ill-equipped to fight the cycle of poverty. This cuts into their learning time or even stops them attending school altogether. Providing kids with robust bikes built for rugged country terrain can reduce their travel times by 75%, boosting attendance and educational achievement.

The first 1,000 participants that signed up for the challenge at the meeting in Davos were given a Fitbit activity tracker to log the distance they walked. Participants' progress was displayed on special screens at the Congress Center in Davos. The participants in the challenge walked an average of 14 kilometers during the course of the Annual Meeting, January 21 – January 23, beating the target of 6 kilometers per person.

"It was impressive to see Participants` enthusiasm to put on Fitbits and walk the walk for education," says Axel A. Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS. "The Davos Challenge brought out both the community and competitive spirit in all of us. We look forward to delivering the bicycles to these children and providing them with better access to education."

The UBS Optimus Foundation has commissioned SRI (formerly known as Stanford Research Institute) to conduct a rigorous study to assess the impact the bikes have on the learning outcomes of children who receive them.

Note to Editors:

World Bicycle Relief (WBR) was founded in 2005 by F.K. Day, Co-founder of SRAM Corporation in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. WBR provides specially-designed, locally assembled bicycles to students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs across rural Africa, South America and Southeast Asia through sustainable study-to-own and work-to-own programs. WBR also trains field mechanics to ensure access to maintenance and spare parts.


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UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in more than 50 countries, with about 35% of its employees working in the Americas, 36% in Switzerland, 17% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 12% in Asia Pacific. UBS employs about 60,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

UBS Optimus Foundation

The UBS Optimus Foundation is an expert grant-making foundation established by UBS in 1999. The Foundation works to break down barriers that prevent children from reaching their potential by funding leading organizations to improve the health, education and protection of children.

The UBS Optimus Foundation supports projects in places where children face adversity. UBS covers all the Foundation's administrative costs so that 100 percent of all donations go directly to the projects.

UBS Optimus Foundation – A better future for children.



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