It has been said that in Malaysia, cycling has become the new golf. The activity has moved from the arena of a child’s toy and daily transportation to one that requires many thousands of ringgit to pursue.
And with the explosion in numbers willing to pay big bucks for imported bikes and accessories, the banks have been quick to support the fledgling movement. Already, three of the major cycling events in the calendar are bank related. But to set themselves apart, Maybank Islamic is going down a different path and not merely following the money.
According to Maybank Islamic chief executive officer, Dato’ Rafique Merican cycling is a sustainable activity, something that goes in line with Maybank’s community corporate responsibility (CR) programmes.
“Under the Maybank Foundation umbrella, our CR programmes champion two main focuses, namely children’s’ health and education. Our interest in cycling meets the criteria of children's health and is aligned to our philosophy of embracing and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. When we embarked on this endeavour, our aim was to further reinforce the bank’s commitment to have a sustainable programme. This would facilitate a noble cause and instil the spirit of charity while promoting healthy living underpinned by sporting activity.”
Pressing ahead with their CR programmes, Maybank Islamic started looking for a partner that was equally committed to their cause. In 2012, they found one in Asia Pacific’s leading health establishment, Institut Jantung Negara(IJN) or the National Heart Institute.
Maybank Islamic donated RM1.5 million to IJN’s Paediatric and Congenital Heart Centre (PCHC) to sponsor heart surgeries for underprivileged families. That amount alone has helped more than 65 patients of various nationalities, including 11 children from Indonesia and few others from Nigeria, Somalia, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
This relationship between IJN and Maybank Islamic then blossomed and in 2014 saw them creating their first cycling event called Maybank Islamic Cycle: Save a Child’s Heart, where the proceeds would go towards IJN’s young and underprivileged paediatric patients. Held in Putrajaya, the cycling event raised RM50, 000 from a thousand participants. The following year in Ipoh, Perak, the event attracted 1,500 local and regional cyclists, raising another RM100, 000.
“The Maybank Islamic Cycle: Save a Child’s Heart campaign, was initiated by us in early 2014 whereby the first ride took place in October the same year. It was to support the healthy lifestyle trend among Malaysians and at the same time raise additional funds for the IJN paediatric patients. The ride, in 2014 and 2015, was indeed a success.
“For 2016, we decided to let our beneficiary (IJN) play host in organising a cycling event called IJN Ride 4 Your Heart and we supported as the main sponsor. However, the purpose and objective remains the same; to assist in funding the young patients with heart diseases or defects to undergo their surgeries at IJN. As for next year, we would like to see this endeavour continue, but it is still early days for us to disclose the nature of commitment,” said Rafique.
The events have also been a good influence on the staff of Maybank Islamic. Since 2014, people at all levels of the company, people have started to invest in a bicycle and embrace the healthy lifestyle. “We have been encouraging our staff to cycle. Consequently, a number of individuals - some of our board members and management team - bought their first bikes and their families had developed cycling as a new hobby, making this activity their favourite weekend pastime. For last year’s IJN Ride 4 Your Heart, we sent a team of 15 cyclists from the Maybank Group to participate. We also have an in-house cycling group now called the Maybank Cycling Club, under the Maybank group,” he said.
Since cycling is on the up and we have started to see a plethora of bicycles land on our shores, we couldn’t resist asking Rafique whether there will be some financial service to support the growing industry and demand for exquisite and expensive bicycles. “Not at the moment,” he said. “However, we have engaged VISA Malaysia as one of our sponsors (prizes) during our Cycle: Save a Child Heart’s event in Ipoh. Moving forward, we are exploring other benefits for VISA cardholders, such as offering instalments schemes to purchase bicycles, etc.”