Katlego lives in Vosloorus in Gauteng. In some ways, she’s like many other 11-year old girls. She attends school every day, dreams of what she’ll be when she grows up, and is slightly shy around people she doesn’t know.
In other ways, though, Katlego is remarkable. Few other children her age run a successful micro business and are able to help their families financially. But Katlego does just that. She has taken an opportunity given to her by Qhubeka and made the most of it to become a savvy micro entrepreneur at her tender young age.
Like many other Qhubeka “Tree-preneurs”, Katlego was given the option to earn a bicycle by growing
100 indigenous trees. She jumped at the chance and, after growing 100 healthy plants to a height of 30cm, she bartered these for a sturdy yellow Buffalo bike, provided by Qhubeka’s BIKES-4-LIFE project, in partnership with Wildlands.
But Katlego knew that if she had the skills to grow 100 trees in her milk bottle nursery in the family’s small yard, she could grow more. To date, Katlego and her family have grown 600 tree seedlings and bartered these for six Qhubeka bicycles.
Katlego now uses one bicycle to cycle to and from school every day, which drastically reduces her commute time and allows her to spend more time on her homework. It also makes doing her chores easier, as the Qhubeka bicycle is designed to carry up to 250kg, which means she can easily fetch water, give someone a lift or transport groceries on her bicycle.
The other five bicycles are also put to good use. Katlego explains that she rents these out to the local community for two hours at a time. The money she brings in has significantly boosted her family’s income, improving their economic standing in the community.
Watching Katlego ride easy circles on her bicycle, it’s plain to see how much she loves her bicycle. But listening to her telling her story, it’s obvious that her bike is far more than just her favourite toy – it’s a tool that has changed her life.