Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters has been doing some mighty fine things on the ground in Rwanda for a while now. Stumpies have been key players in the PEARL Project, a public / private partnership with USAID and Michican State University to revitalize agriculture — and life — in post-genocide Rwanda. PEARL has, by any measure, done great things, and among them it’s been instrumental in putting Rwandan coffee on the world stage as an emerging — and now preeminent — coffee origin. (Really! have you tasted Rwandan coffee lately? All kinds of awesome.)
Above and beyond PEARL, however, Duane Sorenson — Stumptown’s founder and chief protagonist — found a need that had gone unmet. The people harvesting coffee in Rwanda’s hilly terrain had to carry heavy loads of coffee cherry from remote growing regions to washing stations. And they had to do it quickly. Cheaply. Reliably. No matter the weather.
Rwandan coffee farmers needed bikes.
Back in Portland, Duane started putting things together. He rounded-up a network of avid sport cyclists and bike messengers (naturally… most all those messengers were fueled by Stumptown coffee already) and started fundraising. He held benefit dinners. Awareness-raising rides. And in a matter of months he had spun off a non-profit organization to focus on the effort, and had 260 custom-built cargo bikes in the ground in Rwanda.
Today Bikes to Rwanda is a year old. (Happy Birthday!) And to-date they have delivered 400 cargo bikes to Rwanda, opened a bicycle repair shop, arranged innovative financing for coffee growers and more. (Maybe you should think about giving them a tax-deductible birthday present?)
Learn all about it: watch the (awesomely) GOOD video, produced by Good Magazine.