Service bikes for Rwandan farmers

Many coffee farmers in Bukonya, Rwanda are not able to afford equipment, and pick and deliver coffee cherries by hand. I discovered a company delivering retrofit cargo bikes to these farmers enabling them to increase their productivity as much as 20%, but they were struggling to tell their story.


Brand Strategy | Campaign Development | Marketing Collateral

I lead a team to first create a brand around their project embracing the colors of Africa and a hand-made paper style indicative of the lifestyle of these farmers. It was important to show an image of the retrofitted bike to be clear how the centerpiece of the project was unique. Then we developed print imagery to hang up in coffee shops, as well as apparel collateral. We created a slogan: "My other bike is in Rwanda" making one proud to announce they provided for someone in need, yet in keeping with the hand-done, watercolor style of the brand. I then purchased a coffee bike to be displayed in the window of coffee shops that serve coffee from these Bukonyan farmers.

We then launched an awareness and fundraising campaign to test our brand and raise capital to purchase bikes. Funds were distributed in the form of micro-loans to provide a 'lease-to-own' means to bike ownership. This model stimulated the local economy by encouraging the recipient of the bike to lease it out to other farmers in need to raise funds to pay back the loan, and in the process a handful of individuals benefitted from each bike in the field. This micro loan model also allowed the investments to be self-sustaining. When loans were repaid the principal was re-invested in another loan for another bike, as many as 5 subsequent loans until the principal faded. With this method, we raised enough on our pilot campaign to purchase over 40 bikes!

After our campaign was complete, a digital identity system of all campaign materials was then gifted to the partner agency as an additional form of support. The campaign can now easily be reproduced around the country and continue to raise additional funds to provide for many more bikes in the future.

There was so much momentum from this venture, I wanted to leverage that to do more. Several months later I launched a sister campaign to raise additional funds to kick off a trip to actually visit these farmers and check up on how the bikes were working. I lead a team of baristas on a two-hour motorcycle ride through the mountains of Africa to visit these farmers in Rwanda. 

Because of this trip and the bike program these farmers committed to providing us an entire season's harvest, and have established a long-term coffee trading relationship with my partner organization. Carrying this momentum further, I went on to lead a team to design a much-needed school house, inventing original passive lighting and airflow systems for their village. I also used our barista's to train and equipped the Bukonyans in how to make American espresso in a little coffee startup in the capital city nearby.

Rwanda has a very high percentage of their population made up by orphans due to the mass genocide there in the '90's. On this trip we learned one of the greatest needs was to provide them with food.  We were able to raise funds and awareness one more time in the states to help them establish a large sustenance farm to help feed over 10,000 orphans a year.