Cycle Connect Lifts Smallholder Farmers Out of Poverty with Bicycle Loans and More

Guest Blog

Guest Blog by Lucie Ellis, Marketing & Communications Intern, Beneficial Returns

Milly is a mother and farmer who lives in northern Uganda. Until 2019, Milly walked the long trek to the market as often as she could to sell her crops of corn and soybeans, yet her family still lived in poverty. Then, in 2019, she obtained a loan for a bicycle from social enterprise Cycle Connect. This allowed her to sell her crops at markets farther away at a higher price, go there more often, and carry more crops. Milly steadily raised her income, paid off her loan, and quickly requested a second loan for another bike. With a second bike, her kids now easily travel to school, the entire family has better access to healthcare, and Milly is making a steady income.

When Milly learned that Cycle Connect was offering products beyond bicycles, she was interested in a product that would help her grow her farming business. She obtained a loan for an ox and plow, which enabled her to till twice the amount of land, harvest twice the amount of crops, and do it in half the time. Milly’s new assets are allowing her to achieve her dreams. Her increased income is helping her grow her business, keep her kids in school, and save for the future. She is now contemplating a motorcycle loan from Cycle Connect.

Cycle Connect — a 2019 Miller Center graduate and participant in several alumni programs — helps farmers just like Milly to reach their goals. Today, the vast majority of farming families in Uganda lack access to basic agricultural tools. They can’t afford to buy these tools with cash, and securing credit is nearly impossible in rural areas. Cycle Connect fills this gap by financing products that boost farmer income while also offering them training in best practices for agriculture and basic business accounting. The company makes loans from $100 to $1,400 for as long as 20 months, which means farmers can comfortably afford to acquire assets that make big changes in their lives. Additionally, over 50% of clients are female smallholder farmers who are among the most financially excluded.

The Truss Fund provided Cycle Connect with a $150,000 loan to support its efforts to double its portfolio. Now more dreamers like Milly can send their children to school, grow their businesses, and live more comfortably, knowing that they have better access to resources that will lift them out of poverty.


Photo: Milly riding the bicycle she bought with a loan from Cycle Connect.

This article originally appeared in the Truss Fund 2.0 Quarterly Update, August 2022.

The Truss Fund was created by Miller Center and Beneficial Returns, which manages the fund. It provides emergency loans to Miller Center social enterprise alumni that are employing market-driven solutions to end global poverty and protect the planet.