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Images courtesy of Pathway Cycles

Bicycles

Pathway Cycles Is Scaling Up South Africa’s First E-Bike-Focused Delivery Business

Craig Atkinson, originally a music school owner and events company director, has been focusing on projects that uplift members of his community and projects that contribute to nature conservation for the past 13 years now. He has been working to change people’s lives through music.

“Music has been proven to build confidence and is a mindful way to break through the stress of everyday life. My focus was never to teach drummers to be the best drummers, but rather to be the best version of themselves and share their talents by developing their unique skills, building confidence and exposing them to the world of live entertainment,” says Craig. The Electronic Drum Movement was one of Craig’s core projects. “We have drummers in the group who struggled academically and socially, and now, they are performing to thousands of people at shows and festivals.” Through his events company, JamPacked Productions, he has also been fundraising for good causes in areas like wildlife conservation. They have organized concerts  for initiatives to save our precious wildlife, raising over R600K ($38,000) for beneficiaries such as Rhino Revolution, Black Mamba Anti-Poaching, and many others.

His work at JamPacked Productions led to another important project. JamPacked Productions brought “Our Last Night,” the popular rock band from the US, to South Africa. Craig then went to the US for six months, and it was during this visit that Trevor, the frontman, introduced him to electric bicycles in 2017. Craig, who has a background in motorcycles and the BMX bicycle scene, was so convinced that electric bicycles were a gamechanger in the last-mile delivery space, that he quickly partnered with Trevor to form Pathway Cycles. Later that year, they started importing e-bikes, bringing a total of 17 e-bikes to South Africa. At that stage, they were importing different models of bikes with a wide range of specifications to test them out and see which configuration would be best for the steep inclines on Cape Town’s beautiful roads.

In 2018, Craig and his team realized that there was a big opportunity in the delivery and fulfillment industry. They then brought in 15 different e-bikes and experimented with them some more to establish the best bikes for deliveries. Then in 2020, COVID came and the events business basically shut down for most of 2020. The team quickly moved to build on their learnings from their initial pilots and then imported their first 100 commercial-grade e-bikes. These bikes were configured to perform based on their learnings during the pilots. They found six more people who shared the same vision and passion to join the Pathway Cycles team in Cape Town. Pathway Cycles now has a warehouse in Cape Town. They have several parts suppliers, both locally and around the world and then assemble the bikes in Cape Town.

Giving an overview of the business, Craig Atkinson says,

“Pathway Cycles is a first-to-market e-bike delivery solution in South Africa, creating a sustainable business model for our stakeholders, providing a greener, more affordable solution to our clients and furnishing South Africa’s youth with full-time job opportunities. Pathway Cycles has quickly become the preferred partner for Advanced Assessments and Afrika Tikkun. In just six months, we have created over 80 full-time jobs for the youth of South Africa, and continue to create a minimum of three jobs a week, where youth are paid a salary and a stipend through our learnership partnership and the government youth upliftment program. This planet’s survival depends on drastic change towards environmentally-friendly practices. Not only will using e-bikes make a significant impact in our efforts towards saving our planet, but customers will now also be welcomed and greeted by the friendly faces of our Pathway Cycles riders, delivering their food and other items right to their doorsteps.”

Pathway Cycles has entered into strategic partnerships with Royal Haskoning, working for Johannesburg Road Agency and collaborating on creating a smarter micromobility future for the city of Johannesburg. Pathway Cycles has also partnered with Electric Life Group to have an all-rounded solution for micromobility in South Africa, such as electric tuk-tuks, EVs, electric kick scooters, e-cargo vehicles, and more. Furthermore, Pathway Cycles has entered an exclusive agreement with the well-known Waterfall City — the smartest mixed development city in the world — as its delivery and micromobility partner. The city strives to go green and eradicate its carbon footprint, as the first movers in South Africa.

“Youth upliftment programs are central to Pathway Cycles’ mission. Pathway Cycles believes in uplifting the community. Not only do we provide our learners with jobs, but we also include multiple educational platforms to better their education and set them up for future endeavours. Professional riding courses and safety training are also part of the program. Pathway Cycles has subcontracted one of South Africa’s leading bicycle training institutions (DaisyWay Coaching System) where fully qualified UCI instructors who have worked with top cyclists around the world train our riders to ensure they are equipped with the best skill cycling techniques and safety practices for the road.”

There is also a strong focus on technical training.

“With a rapidly growing e-bike market in South Africa, we also offer our learners the opportunity to work within the Pathway Cycles workshop environment, learning the ins and outs of electric bike assembly, electronics and working with lithium-ion. This gives our learners a practical head start in the market.”

Sales, communications and marketing programs are also included.

“Our creative team offers weekly classes and workshops for those learners who would like to explore the world of sales and marketing. Being micro-entrepreneurs, we provide our learners with the workshops to develop their sales and marketing skills while earning a commission for any new customers they acquire for the company while on duty. One of our current learners – Loyiso Buti – tactically acquired the iconic V&A Waterfront as a client in August 2021.”

Pathway Cycles E-Bike Specs

Craig says that the Pathway Cycles e-bike has been tailored to suit local conditions after extensive research. “With over three years of extensive research and intensive trialing with different e-bike models tested on South African soil, our team of professionals has created a first-of-its-kind e-bike, tailor-made for the South African delivery market, because not just any e-bike will be suitable for the South African commercial market.”

Factors such as steep terrain, which is a challenge for many e-bike companies to overcome, have all been considered, as listed below:

  • 52NM high torque motor – This is the perfect amount of strength for those challenging hills.
  • 1970WH total current – Our easily interchangeable dual battery combination ensures our riders can comfortably do approximately 90-150 km on a single charge.

Pathway Cycles has also developed the ViziCube™ for restaurants and other businesses. Restaurants, for example, can now have their food delivered to their customers while simultaneously showcasing their brand for maximum out-of-home exposure, at an affordable rate.

“Our trademarked ViziCube™ has the technology to automatically change to the restaurant’s chosen advertising as soon as the e-bike riders park within a 10-15 meter radius of the restaurant to collect the order. Covid-19 has put immense pressure on small- to medium-sized businesses. The ViziCube™ is a budget-conscious, DOOH marketing tool focusing on helping these enterprises thrive again, by giving them a geo- and time-targeted platform to attract new clients and business opportunities in these trying times. Pathway Cycles is currently seeking investment in our Series A stage. In just six months of operations, Pathway Cycles has grown by more than 354% with an average of 34% growth month-to-month. With our current exclusive deals and clients in place, we are on track to have an annual profit of over $4.5 million by 2024.”

South Africa has a really high unemployment rate. Statistics South Africa data shows that, at the start of June, the official unemployment rate among the 18-34 years age group was 46.3% in Q1 2021. It’s really great to see startups like these that are focused on youth empowerment.

Images courtesy of Pathway Cycles

 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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