Bikes for Rwanda: Project Rwanda Initiative
Project Rwanda was founded by Tom Ritchey after he visited Rwanda in 2005, out of his passion for cycling, a love of Rwanda’s natural beauty, and the inspiring stories of hope of the Rwandan people. Tom’s trip resulted in a realization that the bicycle can be an important tool in rebuilding a country, building national pride and addressing local issues facing Rwanda and other African nations.
Project Rwanda currently operates with a small group of like minded Board members who all donate their time and energy to the project. Donations are primarily used to support actual projects, with only a small portion going toward the occasional need for temporary help with clerical and graphic design functions. We estimate currently that 90% of donations are used in support of actual projects. Project Rwanda has no permanent salaried staff, offices or vehicles and utilizes other agencies’ staff on the ground in Rwanda to assist with the local support of our projects.
Project Rwanda Mission Statement
Project Rwanda is committed to furthering 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.
1. Build Awareness for Rwanda:
Increase awareness for Rwanda, the country and its people, as a tourism and cycling destination, through the development of an eco–tourism industry: annually (September ’06 was 1st event) conduct a multi–day event attended by Rwanda’s, US and European riders to promote this concept.
2. Special Bike Designs:
Project Rwanda is actively engaged in the design, development and consults with implementation of special use bicycles to address specific needs within the country. Project Rwanda locates a foreign vendor to manufacture these bikes cost effectively for export to Rwanda (Landed cost approximately $100 — $200). In this role PR serves as a facilitator, consultant, designer and advisor regarding the entire scope of the project. A collaborating agency actual funds the purchase, delivery and distribution of the bikes. The first undertaking is for 2,000 special hauling long bikes for use by coffee farmers to haul their crop to the washing station collection point more quickly which increases the price they receive for the coffee cherries as this is a very time sensitive step. This project is in conjunction with the Texas A & M University and their Rwanda management team, USAID/SPREAD, which funded the actual cost of the bikes.
3. Bike Distribution:
Project Rwanda plans to establish bike distribution to needed organizations that do not have existing grants to purchase bikes. This program is under development and will involve a “hand up”, not a “hand out” through a micro financing mechanism which subsidizes the cost of purchasing the bike and provides micro financing locally but requires repayment of a percentage of the bike cost over a period of time at low interest rates. It is envisioned that this micro financing mechanism, once established, will be rolled out to other African nations and non African developing nations. The need for special use bikes worldwide is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions; the bike is an affordable, practical, environmentally friendly solution to local transportation and hauling needs.
4. National Pride:
Select, coach, train, equip and promote a Rwandan National Cycling Team with the goal of successful participation in International Cycling competition as a means of promoting this industry within Rwanda and providing increasing awareness and national pride for Rwanda internationally.
Project Rwanda – http://projectrwanda.org/