While some companies have decreased their investment in sports sponsorship, Old Mutual is finding it an effective tool to reach new frontiers.

The financial services provider has invited cyclists from emerging markets such as Kenya, Swaziland and Namibia to be part of the annual Old Mutual joBerg2c, the country’s longest paired mountain bike stage race, which takes place from April 27 to May 5 this year.

“Inviting riders from those markets where we have customers presents us with an excellent opportunity to broaden our reach and create a positive experience for them,” said Joy Khaole, head of sponsorships at Old Mutual.

“By sharing events we aim to do great things for the growth and cohesion of these markets.”

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Kenyan riders Davidson Kamau (left) and David Kinjah will be leading the African contingent at the Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race from Heidelberg to Scottburgh on April 27. Photo: Kelvin Trautman

Kenyan riders David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau have been particularly strong contenders since the race’s inception in 2010, finishing second in the inaugural event and placing fifth overall last year.

Over the past three years, the event has grown an enthusiastic following and this year 300 teams will take on the challenging 910km route from Heidelberg in Gauteng to Scottburgh in KwaZulu-Natal.

Khaole said some of the well-known names taking part this year included racing driver Gugu Zulu, Survivor SA: Maldives runner-up Letshego Moshoeu and former Protea cricketer Nicky Boje, who will all be riding in a celebrity relay.

The race is one of several sports sponsorships under the Old Mutual banner. These include the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Old Mutual Mangaung Cup, Old Mutual Om Die Dam Marathon and Old Mutual Buffalo Marathon.

“Our growing focus on sport gives us a great mainstream platform from which to encourage physical wellbeing and drive a healthy spirit of adventure, camaraderie and competition among participants from all over Africa,” Khaole added.

The other African countries in which Old Mutual does business are Nigeria, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Further afield, Old Mutual Emerging Markets also operates in Mexico, Colombia, India and China.

For more information, visit www.oldmutual.co.za or www.joberg2c.co.za