Friday, January 7, 2011

The Bicycle as a Tool and Symbol of Hope

Give a man a fish - feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish - feed him for life.  Give a coffee farmer a bike - he will feed his family and caffeinate the world.

Okay, a slight bit of hyperbole, but you get the idea.  Imagine having to move hundreds of pounds of product from farm to market over miles of dirt roads without the aid of a truck or other motorized vehicle.  Now add the issue of speed since the product loses value the longer it takes to market.  Finally, think of the trip back to the farm to work on getting the next load ready and you get a glimpse into the life of a small coffee farmer in Rwanda.

These farmers work on farms with 300 or fewer trees and earn an average of $250 per year so resources are scarce.  Some began carving bikes out of wood just to have some way of transporting coffee to market.  This included wooden wheels, bars, forks, and platform and no way to propel or stop the bike.  Imagine "riding" this bike with 300 pounds of cargo - not safe, fast or efficient which is where Project Rwanda comes-in.

Project Rwanda provides farmers with a safe and specially engineered bikes called coffee bikes to help them with their transportation issues.  The bikes are not a gift, but a self-sustaining micro-loan worth $200 that must be paid back to the Project.  Reduced time in getting coffee beans to market can increase the price paid to the farmer by as much as 15 cents per pound - this premium goes a long way to improving the lives of the farmers and their families.

In case you have not already guessed, Two Wheel Transit is "All-in" in terms of support for this project.  It has all of the elements that make it worth the effort - bikes, improved lives through bikes, great organization, efficient operations, coffee, the human spirit and of course, bikes.  (Yeah, we said bikes twice.) We have a coffee bike mock-up in the shop so people get the idea and ask questions.  (Bike is graciously on loan from Dr. Corey Judd of Inland Imaging)

We have been matching donations for the Project which have been dropped-off at the shop from our very generous customers.  To date, we have raised $544 - enough for 2 1/2 coffee bikes.  We are also donating 5% of the sales price of each 2011 Trek bicycle purchased from Jan 3 through Feb 15 to the fund in hopes of raising more. 

If you or someone you know is considering a Trek purchase this year, doing so before February 15 will net a great bike and help a great program.  If not, stop by and drop some coin into the Project Rwanda water bottle as a donation.

Get more information, make an online donation or visit the Project store at:

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