Latest media releases

Walk for education in Africa: UBS and the World Economic Forum challenge Davos participants

Zurich/Basel Media Releases Global Corporate Responsibility


Zurich/Basel, 14 January 2015 – UBS and the World Economic Forum today announced a collaboration to launch The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education, a program designed to help cut the time children travel to school and improve their learning opportunities. 

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. For instance, in rural South Africa many have to walk 6km or more to school every day. 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.

If Davos participants walk on average 6km for education, during the Annual Meeting 2015, UBS and the UBS Optimus Foundation will donate 2,500 specially designed bicycles, one for every Davos participant. 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.

"All children should have access to education and the opportunity to learn," says Axel Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Corporate Responsibility Committee. " In our view, we have a great responsibility to children, and also a responsibility to our shareholders to ensure that our philanthropic activities are highly impactful.  This program reflects our commitment to both these goals."

The first 1,000 participants to sign up for the challenge at the meeting in Davos will be given Fitbit® activity trackers to log the distance they walk individually and to allow us to calculate the collective average. Participants' progress will be displayed on special screens at the Congress Center in Davos and additional information will be available on a dedicated website,  

"It is in the true spirit of social entrepreneurship to seek innovative ways to significantly improve the lives of children," says Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab.  "The meeting in Davos is the ideal place to present creative solutions to improve the state of the world. That's why we support UBS for the Davos Challenge: Walk for Education, a program that will advance the learning potential for children."

Based on the projected combined results of the Forum participants, UBS and the UBS Optimus Foundation expect to donate a total of 2,500 Buffalo Bicycles through World Bicycle Relief. The UBS Optimus Foundation has commissioned the Stamford 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.

UBS draws on its 150-year heritage to serve private, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as retail clients in Switzerland. Its business strategy is centered on its pre-eminent global wealth management businesses and its leading universal bank in Switzerland, complemented by its Global Asset Management business and its Investment Bank, with a focus on capital efficiency and businesses that offer a superior structural growth and profitability outlook.

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.



Media contact
Switzerland:    +41-44-234 85 00
UK:                 +44-207-567 47 14
Americas:        +1-212-882 58 57
APAC:             +852-297-1 82 00