RIHANNA’S WHEEL POWER: Less than a week after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss educational matters, Rihanna has launched a five-year educational partnership with the world’s leading bike-sharing program Ofo.
Set up through her Clara Lionel Foundation, the eight-time Grammy winner-led “1 KM Action” will help fund CLF’s Global Scholarship Program and support dynamic educational programs in Malawi. In addition, some students have already received bikes to help young girls get to school safely, “cutting down those very long walks they make to and from school all alone,” Rihanna said. Some teachers have also been given bicycles to get to class on time.
After graduating from college and before starting Ofo and becoming its chief executive officer, Dai Wei volunteered for a year as a teacher in one of China’s more impoverished regions. “We believe in unlocking every corner in the world with equal access to education as well as with our bike-sharing scheme,” he said.
The pairing with the Clara Lionel Foundation comes at a time when the station-free Ofo is in the process of trying to raise $1 billion. Last month Alibaba helped the three-year-old bike-sharing start-up raise $700 million. The 29-year-old Barbadian does not have a deal with Ofo though, according to a spokeswoman for CLF, which was started in 2012 and named for the “Kiss It Better” singer’s grandparents Clara and Lionel Braithwaite.
Earlier this year Rihanna, a global ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education, visited Malawi where only eight percent of the 4.6 million students in primary school go on to a secondary one. Ofo is also helping CLF to offer scholarships to students from China, Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana and Jamaica who are accepted to colleges or universities in the U.S. The company is particularly interested in students focused on the environment and sustainability.
From China’s Mobike venturing into London to ArrivaBike delving into Slovakia, bike-sharing has been grabbing all sorts of headlines. In New York, Citibike had record-breaking usage one day last week when nearly 70,300 trips were taken. While Alexander Wang has added cyclingwear to the second season of his Adidas collaboration and Lorenzo Martone is launching his own cycling-friendly line this fall (to accentuate his high-end bikes and collapsible helmets), Rihanna was onto the trend as a fashion statement long ago. Steven Klein shot the musician standing with a bicycle for Italian Vogue in 2009.