Rwanda has nearly 500,000 small-holder coffee producers who possess an average of 200 coffee trees each. Each small plantation is managed like a small garden and is the principal generator of cash for rural Rwanda. The coffee farmer delivers the coffee cherries to central washing stations where they are graded for quality and purchased. It takes a typical farmer six to twelve hours to deliver the cherries to the washing station. With a coffee bike the trip is reduced to two to four hours. This results in a higher grade of quality, and $0.15 – $0.20 more per pound for the farmer. This is about a 10% premium.
There are 2,000 Coffee Bikes in Rwanda today. These bikes are changing lives. Not only does the farmer get the product to market faster, they can carry more and spend substantially less time transporting. This allows them to spend more time doing other work. There are many documented cases of farmer’s income rising three fold and five fold. Vincent Habyarimana saw his income rise from $360 per year to $1,930 per year. All because of a bike.
These bikes also function like a station wagon. Families with a bike can visit their friends and family more easily. The social uses of the bike are a wonderful benefit.
Farmer’s purchase the subsidized bikes through a micro finance loan and repay the loan over a three year period. This is a very cool project. You can learn more about Project Rwanda here.