The Road to Parity is marking the opening of its fund-raising channels with a major cycling challenge from Land's End at the south west tip of England to John O'Groats in the far north east of Scotland.
Jonathan Hill, the charity's Founder, will begin the iconic cycling route on Saturday 11 July. It will take him at least 3 weeks to complete the journey of around 1,000 miles, using B-roads and cycle trails, avoiding main roads where possible.
Jonathan said: "Cycling is a passion of mine and I thought how can I challenge myself in a way that benefits the charity and creates something positive amidst all the Covid negativity? I started mentioning the idea to a few people, did some research and before I knew it, I’d talked myself into it!"
The challenge will begin in England where Covid restrictions have sufficiently lifted for the trip to go ahead. By the time Jonathan reaches the Scottish border, it's expected that key movement and tourism accommodation restrictions will have been relaxed in Scotland.
The charity lifts people out of extreme poverty through entrepreneurship. A total of 20 enterprises have either been set up or are in the process of launching in slum areas of the Indian capital, Delhi. Results so far show these small, mostly street businesses, boost household income by up to 120%.
Jonathan has been largely funding the charity himself for the past 18 months. The plan now, with partner, Learning Links Foundation in India, is to scale up, fund more micro-enterprises and free more households from desperate poverty.
Jonathan said: "That’s where I need people's help. I know things are difficult for many people at the moment because of Covid, but if your bank account has more in it than you need, please do the right thing and donate." A JustGiving page has been set up for the challenge with a target of 1,500 pounds (USD 1,956). The main updates from the trip with be on the charity's Facebook page @theroadtoparity.
The charity helps the poorest of the poor. Many of the beneficiaries are illiterate and exist along with fellow household members on less than 35p (USD 0.45) each a day.
The business model is very simple and based on Jonathan's academic research in India. The charity provides a small grant (average so far £52) so that carefully vetted beneficiaries can buy a piece of equipment or supplies to get a business started. It could be a cart and some vegetables for a street stall or a sewing machine to begin a tailoring business.
"You should see the joy when very poor people are given a chance. It brings immense pride, financial independence and a wonderful realisation that the extreme poverty they have endured is no longer a life sentence," Jonathan added.
In time, the charity plans to expand to other developing countries so it can assist many more people in extreme poverty.