Project Rwanda: Bicycle-based development

December 12, 2008 at 8:34 pm 1 comment

Continuing with my end-of-the-year cleaning and de-cluttering of my home, I found myself flipping through Outside Magazine‘s September issue and was captivated by a story about the Wooden Bike Classic in Rwanda.

Almost fifteen years after the genocide, tiny Rwanda is suddenly a hot adventure destination, the new darling of multinational investors, and, says mountain-bike legend Tom Ritchey, one extra-long bicycle short of a comeback.

Videos and photos of Rwanda’s Wooden Bike Classic can be found here, but I was most intrigued to learn about Project Rwanda, an organization “committed to the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. Our goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely.”

One of the cool things to come out of Project Rwanda is the “coffee bike,” a 45-pound, all-steel bicycle with special modifications (e.g., V-brakes, eight-speed drivetrain, long-wheelbase) that allow coffee farmers to cut hours off the time it takes to haul beans from fields to the processing plants — a job that is still done on foot throughout much of Africa. By delivering more beans at a faster pace, farmers and workers are able to demand a premium for fresher product.

Project Rwanda is not the first organization to use long-wheelbase utility bikes to facilitate economic development; in Kenya, WorldBike initiated a similar project called Big Boda.

World Vision plans to offer two-year micoloans to help Rwandans cover the $185 cost of a coffee bike. Feel free to donate directly to any of the above organizations (easy to do via online donate buttons on their sites); Project Rwanda also sells a $1,000 replica of the coffee bike in the U.S., with proceeds supporting its cause.

play, think…
J.R. Atwood

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. UltraRob  |  December 14, 2008 at 5:00 am

    World Bicycle Relief is another charity that uses bikes to improve people’s lives. They partnered with World Vision after the Tsumani. Currently they have an anonymous donor that is matching donations dollar for dollar. I’m donating part of the earnings from the cycling and outdoor gear search on my site to World Bicycle Relief through Christmas.

    Reply

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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