My name is Nathi Tyembile (23), currently an enrolled student at the University of Pretoria. I have for as far as my memory can serve me into my adolescent years had a high business acumen, to which I thought would serve me a great deal of success and most importantly financial freedom. It wasn’t too long after this realisation that I saw myself venturing into various spaces of Entrepreneurship in aid of fulfilling my business acumen, for the most of it I realised my ability to solve business problems and provide practical solutions will go a long way in helping young entrepreneurs in getting their businesses off the ground. As a result starting entering case competitions, but this soon proved to not be where my heart was.
My story is not one of creative new and innovative measures of doing business, new age technology and the likes. No, my story soon became one of how can I really seek to improve the standard of living within my community by bringing about change to its people. The answer to this for me was soon found in the 1965Ride (www.1965Ride.co.za) a 850km cycle tour between Johannesburg and Queenstown (Eastern Cape) with the objective of raising funds for an educational scholarship and bursary endowment fund for deserving students at quality schools in around the Eastern Cape with particular focus on children from disadvantaged backgrounds with one of our key areas being the development of teachers, teaching methods and resources in Maths and Science (www.queenstowneducation.co.za) . As seen in previous years, the Eastern Cape has been the lowest performing province in terms of the Matric Pass Rate: obtaining a 63.3% pass in the year 2016. There was little, to no hesitation to be part of this movement under the leadership of my mentor, CEO of the Queenstown Education Foundation, Founder of the 1965Ride Tony Frost. With my initial involvement as Chief Of Support I became part of a dream shared by so many of who decided to do something about the lack of access to quality education in the province, poor dilapidated infrastructure and most notably the lack of commitment by local government structures to invest in the lives of these young people. This by no means is a ride only for professional cyclists but rather a vehicle steered by passionate ordinary South Africans who want to effect change in our community one life at a time. I need however to make mention of a man who has changed my way of thinking and given me great inspiration, Rodger Webb a man knocking on the doors of 70 years of life. Whom a back surgery, two plastic knees and triple heart bypass later still rides the 850km tour and is in fact one of the veterans who doesn’t miss a year of riding. What excuse under the sun could I possibly have? And to be a part of this ride there are no excuses, as far as we are still able, young and healthy we are all available. Like so many of these exceptional men and women I decided to act, to use the small amount of effort I have in bringing about positive change to our society. No rain, thunder or storm can stop the pursuit of alleviating poverty and providing access to underprivileged children who are talented smart and driven. The mere thought of what is at stake has shown me no amount of complacency will get anything done. I quickly formed a new found respect and character for the individuals I have met who believe that in order to shape the future it starts with us. The 2017 tour has recently ended on the 20th April, no amount of preparation would get you ready for the emotions of what we are doing under the banner of this initiative, when you are encountered by the pool of students forming a circle of honour for the riders upon arrival in Queenstown. The feeling can simply be said to be beyond any imagination. To see the conviction in everyone who rode accompanied by the will to do it all again makes all the more motivating to do much more than I possibly can to ensure the sustainability of this initiative.
Most notably this Ride would not be possible without the kindness and generosity of our sponsors, cyclists and key stakeholders who give of their hearts, time and money to this cause whereby to date have been able to raise funds in excess of R4million. The goal is to reach R10million so that the fund is able to provide R1million each year for bursaries, improvement to environment of teaching to make learning more interactive and effective because Education Is the most powerful tool the future leaders of our country can possess. These are children we may never see, families and lives to which the full extent of the impact of what we do can never be conveyed in words. When you offer someone a platform to become the greatest they can be there is no value that can be attached to that, it is purely priceless. And that is why we do what we do, you cannot for a second begin to put a value to a life changed but we can see the hope that manifests for our country. Potential is being unleashed, homes are being alleviated from poverty all because individuals who care woke up and decided to do what they can and extend a hand to our fellow citizens.
The preparation for 2018 tour is now under way, my conviction is simple, sponsorship is an important part of this initiative being sustainable. I have begun to approach a number of corporates and I am without surprise that their number one concern is in effect the bottom line. Many have closed the door in my face, many have told me that what we are trying to do isn’t in line with their CSI initiatives, and many have told me they don’t have the time to listen to me. Alas I maintain my determination to keep knocking, of the 1000s of doors I knock on at least one will be welcoming to hearing our story with the hopes that what we do will motivate them to become one of the many that give to this cause. That one individual will be one that understands the dire need to improve the quality of education in our country, that if at all we are to progress as a nation we need to unite and lift each other up. I hope to find that person who will open that door, because without you we are closing the doors on many talented, smart children of our country who possess the ability to lead our country, bring about innovation to employ many. Without you, who is willing to open that door, we are closing the door for dreams and talent and most severely on South Africa.
Like the motto of my Alma Mata says “Esse Quam Videri”, to be rather than to seem to be.
The team of the 2017 tour at one of the pit stops
For more on the 1965Ride: