Diageo staff help their African counterparts saddle up
Diageo employees from across Scotland and Ireland have joined forces to bring pedal power to rural communities in Africa by donating hundreds of used bicycles.
More than 450 bikes have been collected over the past six months and today (23 June) they were packed into a shipping container at Diageo’s Shieldhall packaging plant in Glasgow for their 5,400 mile journey to Ghana in West Africa.
Diageo staff from Guinness Ghana Limited will then distribute the bikes to the communities of Koblimahigu and Kakpayili where they will help improve mobility and connectivity for hundreds of people. Diageo has already made a big impact in these areas through its Water of Life programme which brought safe drinking water to the communities.
The shipping container used to transport the bicycles will remain in Koblimahigu to be transformed into a Bicycle Empowerment Centre with locals being trained in bicycle maintenance to create a self-sustaining business for the community.
The project has been run in partnership with the charity Bicycles For Humanity and was inspired by two Diageo staff members in Scotland, Diane Thomson and Jennifer O’Keefe.
Thomson, who is a supply planning manager at Diageo Shieldhall, said: “Jennifer and I both knew we wanted to do something for charity, but we wanted to make sure it was something tangible that would really change people’s lives and Bicycles For Humanity gave us the perfect opportunity.
“From the moment our idea was given the go-ahead our colleagues really rallied behind the project and we’ve been overwhelmed with the support from Diageo.
“People here have been brilliant; promoting the campaign, donating and helping collect bikes. And our colleagues in Africa have been great with organising the logistics in Ghana. It’s been a real team effort.
“We are delighted the day is finally here when the bikes begin their journey and we truly hope they make a difference to the lives of the people in Ghana.”
The Bicycles For Humanity charity provided support and advice to Thomson and O’Keefe throughout the project.
Pat Montani, founder of the charity, said: “We are gratified by the wonderful work Diageo is doing which complements that of the Bikes For Humanity chapters which have delivered over 150,000 bicycles to Africa.”
As well as delivering the bikes, Diageo apprentice engineers at Shieldhall have prepared bike stands and equipment to help convert the shipping container into a bicycle workshop once it is in Ghana.
Diageo suppliers have also supported the initiative, with MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) donating the shipping container, and Malcolm Logistics and Carntyne Transport assisting with the transportation. The bikes are expected to arrive in northern Ghana by the end of July.