I don’t usually post in full a press release from an entity within a virtual world like Second Life, but the information below is worth replicating in full. It’s good news on a small scale but if the growth in use of virtual worlds continues at a pace predicted in some quarters, then larger results for the real world may be seen.
“Virtual Africa’s Second Life initiative brings bicycles to South Africans in need
CAPE TOWN, December 14, 2007. The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life began selling virtual African bicycles a month ago and have sold nearly 150 bikes to date – less than 20 bikes shy of financing the purchase of a real world bicycle. The project is now being ramped up to include the ability for residents to purchase a bicycle in the real world through inworld kiosks to directly benefit a South African in need.
The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life began selling virtual African bicycles a month ago and have sold nearly 150 bikes to date – less than 20 bikes shy of financing the purchase of a real world bicycle. The project is now being ramped up to include the ability for residents to purchase a bicycle in the real world through inworld kiosks to directly benefit a South African in need.
“Buying a real bike can vastly improve the life of a South African needing transportation to a job, and it only costs $130 US to make this happen,” explained Dorette Steenkamp (Alanagh Recreant in Second Life), co-executive director of Uthango Social Investments, a South African charity working directly in various urban and rural communities with people live in poverty. “For just L$41,700, Second Life residents can purchase a real world bicycle for a real world family.”
All Uthango bike kiosks give residents the option to purchase a real world bicycle. The new initiative is the second phase of the [e]bizikile fundraising drive to explore RL/SL integration. Inworld, residents can still purchase virtual African bicycles through the kiosks for L$250. The bicycles are designed by Shukran Fahid of !BooPeRFunK! and can be used to participate in a grid-wide virtual bike-a-thon in 2008.
“It takes the sale of 167 virtual bicycles to just buy one real world bike,” said co-executive director Erna Sittig who is Enakai Ultsch in Second Life. “We hope residents will help us meet the greater needs by purchasing the real world bike in addition to – or instead of – a virtual one”.
The [e]bizikile fundraising event brings attention to how bicycles fit into the economy in African cities and rural towns. It is combined with a dynamic FLICKR website, with more than 100 photos of African bicycles.
The [e]bizikile fundraising event is supported by Charitable Hearts, one of the largest charity groups in Second Life advocating for the work of a few selected charities. The e]bizikile African bicycles will be available from Uthango’s office in Second Life or from dedicated affiliated businesses. Web-enabled vendors donated by Hippo Technologies will dispense the bicycles. Free vendors are still available to interested companies, organizations or individual landowners in Second Life.
For more information about the virtual and real world African bicycles, contact Enakai Ultsch. Second Life residents can also join the [e]bizikile group or IM Alanagh Recreant for further details. To visit the Uthango offices in Second Life, go to http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sunset%20Commerce/60/82/22/.
Uthango Social Investments is a registered charity located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the first African-based company and NGO officially in Second Life, where it will launch VIRTUAL AFRICA in 2008. Read more about the developers of Virtual Africa on http://slafrica.wordpress.com.
Uthango Social Investments is an investment and development company specialising in sustainable poverty eradication through innovation. It focuses on the digital divide, micro-enterprise development, intercultural dialogue, crime prevention, community mental health, and infrastructure development.