Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson makes regular trips to farms around the world to source his prized beans. On a recent trip to a coffee co-op in Rwanda, he asked one of the farmers if there was anything Stumptown could do to help them out.
The answer? He just wanted a bike.
This request resonated with Sorenson and with the help of some of his bike-loving clientele back in Portland, Bikes to Rwanda was born.
The new group’s mission is to,
“Provide cargo bicycles to co-operative coffee farmers in Rwanda. The goal is to improve quality of life in these communities through a bike workshop and maintenance program that provides transportation resources for basic needs and enhances production of quality coffee.”
Not only would bikes offer reliable and cheap transportation, but according to Bikes to Rwanda they can have a huge impact on the farmer’s lives,
“Bicycles will allow the farmers to move coffee cherries from harvest through the various stages of washing and sorting, quickly allowing for a greater percentage of the harvest to be premium coffee. Premium coffee fetches a much higher market price, which in turn raises the wages of the coffee farmers. Bicycles will also help the farmers bring other crops to local markets, provide a means of transportation, and perhaps most importantly, as many Portlanders will tell you, add a little bit of fun to daily life.”
Photo: Bikes to Rwanda
Much of the energy behind Bikes to Rwanda comes from local bike messengers, which is not surprising considering the popularity of Stumptown Coffee with the messenger set. Hazel Gross is one of the volunteers. She told me they hope to raise enough money to send 260 Worksman bicycles to the village,
“Our first goal is to raise enough money to send a shipping container of bikes to Rwanda to arrive in time for harvest in the spring of 2007. We will be holding a variety of benefit shows and fundrasing events for this. There is an art sale/silent auction going on at the Division Stumptown through
Bikes to Rwanda is planning a “soft” launch on October 22nd after the Northwest Regional Barista Championships at the Wonder Ballroom in North Portland. There will be bands and a screening of the movie they made with footage of the coffee farm in Rwanda that will receive the bicycles.
For more information on this exciting new project, contact clara[dot]seasholtz[at]gmail[dot]com.