The Coffee Bike
For several centuries, the farmers of Rwanda used to walk their produce and goods through their country also referred to as the Land of Thousand Hills. Some fortunate ones had the facility of certain primitive bikes, built out of wooden wheels, wooden chassis, no breaks, no gears, no seat and poor steering, called wooden bikes.
Project Rwanda took upon the task of equipping farmers with their own bikes created with strong metal chassis, seats, modern wheels, gears and breaks, thus realizing their dream of owning a transport vehicle one day. Let’s tell you about the entire process!
The bikes were ordered by a company based out of South Africa, and then shipped to Rwanda. They would then undergo an assembly process in Rwanda and then tested for quality. The farmer coming to pick up his bike would get a loan through a micro-loan facility. Then, a mechanic would instruct the farmer about the operation of the bike and how to take good care of it. The result – the farmer realizes his dream of owning a vehicle for transportation of his goods and products, and sometimes even his family. The complete world of that farmer undergoes a transformation. Once the micro-loan is paid off, the company extending the loan would buy a new coffee bike and make another farmer’s dream a reality!
The Coffee Bike project initiated by Project Rwanda had initially aimed at providing 2000 such special hauling long bikes to the coffee farmers of Rwanda. The idea was to help them haul their crop to various washing stations and collection points. Not only was The Coffee Bike an environment-friendly and cheaper alternative, but the coffee growers could earn more money when the cherries would arrive earlier. It was a joint effort between US Agency for International Development and Texas A&M University (along with their Rwanda management team).
There are more than 450,000 farmers in Rwanda who are engaged in coffee bean farming. The 2000 coffee bikes procured by Project Rwanda are helping both the coffee farmers as well as their families in being more productive and rising above the poverty line for the first ever time in several generations. Although Project Rwanda had targeted coffee farmers as the initial beneficiaries of, other farmers and service providers like healthcare workers, teachers, police, taxis and courier service providers can all benefit from coffee bikes!
Every coffee bike can take huge loads up to 300 pounds. Furthermore, they can also serve as the perfect vehicle for making quick trips to marketplace or for enjoying leisurely picnics alongside scenic trails. These coffee bikes changed Rwandan farmers’ lives and continue to do so!