We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming for a few minutes to give something back. I'm lucky to have a lovely wife, comfortable home and resources to indulge my passion for cycling. In the grand scheme of things, selecting the right kit just doesn't rank that highly.
When I was in Portland at the recent Oregon Manifest I had a chance to speak with Clara Seasholtz, Executive Director of Bikes to Rwanda. The program sells heavy-duty cargo bicycles to the workers of Rwandan coffee collectives at a highly-subsidized cost (I think they refer to it as a micro loan). She spoke about the organization's mission with passion and pragmatism focusing on the long term goals of self-sufficiency and sustainability, that means building maintenance shops, providing tools and ensuring that bicycle owners meet their payment responsibilities. This is non-profit, but it's not about giving away bicycles.
The basic formula seems to be working and producing a number of unexpected outcomes. Many of the growers are women and culturally Rwandan women don't ride bicycles. That hasn't stopped them from purchasing the cargo bikes and leasing them out to male workers. In fact there's been a flourishing entrepreneurial business around the bicycles for use as taxis when they're not hauling up to 350 pounds of coffee beans. Clara sees all this as wonderfully encouraging.
I asked her if they had plans to expand the mission to other applications or countries, and she explained that they've just scratched the surface of the coffee workers needs, and that's where the focus will remain.
Today's commute was one of the great days that arrive unexpectedly. A brisk, sunny day with dramatic white clouds and a strong tailwind for the journey home. Encouraged by the following wind, I thought about hauling coffee and figured I could lend a hand. I've got a hundred dollars headed for Bikes to Rwanda. Here's the Paypal link to make a donation. Hope you'll join me.
Donate to Bikes to Rwanda online through Paypal