Cycles For Farmers (CFF) is a nonprofit social enterprise and philanthropic arm of Jay Fortune Company. CFF traces its roots back in 2005 when Johnan, Irene and Winnie Kisige co-founded a charity called Prisoners Support Organization (PSO) which basically worked on ex-prisoners transition back into society through rehabilitation and service provision. Winnie was our colleague and had been incarcerated at the Kirinya Women prison and when she finished serving her sentence, we shared so many thoughts on how to support her and more ex-convicts transiting back into society as there were no rehabilitation programs in place. With Funding from Irish Aid and the $10 Dollar Club in Washington, PSO established community rehabilitation programs that included: horticultural agricultural farming, vocational educational training and youth entrepreneurship programs for ex-convicts from Kirinya, Maluku and Luzira prisons in partnership with Nile Vocational Institute.
In 2007, we began our bicycle ex-convicts rehabilitation program and received bicycles together with our partners Bikes For the World (BFW) and Working Bicycles Chicago. The bicycle rehab project mainly supported ex-convicts rehabilitation programs, youth in the informal sector and a few school going youths. As almost 70% of ex-convicts turned into farming initiatives, with large volumes of crops being produced, farmers turned to selling their harvests to local markets, but had huge surpluses that came in consistently.
Through a friend in the UK, we obtained a market for small-scale farmers produce through a company called K2 Fruits and Vegetable Co (Kent) and Malik Fresh Exports (New Spitafields market) which led to the formation of the Jay Fortune Company in 2016 as an exporting company. JFCo links smallholder farmers produce to international markets and currently has clients in Europe, Middle-East and Asia, working with some 6800 small-scale farmers across the country. Our farmers mainly consist of ex-convicts, youths and women producing mainly in the horticulture and cash crops sectors.
Project follow ups saw the positive impact that bicycles had on those who received them and the high demand particularly from Farming communities and youth traders (those working in informal sectors i.e. carpenters, mechanics, brick makers, load carriers, grocery shop owners etc). These provided an inspiration to develop an on-going means of supporting the growing needs of Ugandans and improve their livelihoods. With huge volumes of crops trying to reach markets, fresh crops rotting on farms due to lack of transport, the Covid19 pandemic effects that saw a rise in transport costs resulting in social distancing, we decided to revive our bicycle empowerment project.
In 2021, Cycles For Farmers was birthed and continued the legacy that Prisoners Support Organization had started having over 9000 bicycles shipped from US partners. CFF currently has its bicycle workshop located in Kamwokya and is setting up a network of youth to attend its entrepreneurship program and become more exemplary leaders in their communities. We are resuming at 9000 bicycles with a vision to ship 8 containers that is 4000 bikes a year reaching 12,000 households by 2023.