It’s an honor to be stepping into the role of CEO at Cycle Connect! In 2019, I joined the team as Managing Director on the ground in Uganda. Over the past three years, I’ve navigated our team through the impacts of the pandemic, grown our leadership team to be fully East African, and expanded our reach through the addition of six satellite offices across Uganda. Despite the many challenges of the past three years, our team has shown resilience to push our mission forward, showing the commitment to go the distance to unlock better livelihoods for farmers trapped in poverty. As Molly and I have worked together, we have both begun to feel the shift of Cycle Connect from a growing organization to one that is prepared for scale.
I have a deep personal passion for improving the lives of farmers. After the second world war my grandfather provided a ploughing service with a horse for farmers in his village in the north of the Netherlands. Once he heard about the mechanization options to plough land, my grandfather reached out to his network to access a loan to purchase a tractor. He was among the first in his village to mechanize his services and the tractor also allowed him to offer additional agricultural services relevant for the dairy value chain. It was this initial investment that brought my grandfather to grow a successful agricultural contracting company that three generations later still has a lasting impact on my family.
Having witnessed firsthand how financing and agricultural tools can change the lives of people, I feel strongly connected to the mission of Cycle Connect. I firmly believe in the potential of improving the lives of farmers in rural areas of Uganda, the country that has been my home for the past 10 years. Seeing both the challenges of poverty as well as the great potential of agriculture I feel dedicated to ensure that the farmers living in poverty are equipped with knowledge and tools to set their families up for success for the generations to come.
Cycle Connect is gearing up to connect thousands of Ugandan families to the knowledge and the tools to propel themselves out of poverty. As I step into this role, I will be focused on scaling our impact throughout Uganda. There are three areas that Cycle Connect will be hyper-focused on to achieve scale: regional expansion, growth of our asset portfolio, and digitization.
- Regional Expansion – Our operations have been heavily focused in northern Uganda. In the next phase of our growth, Cycle Connect will be piloting our model in a new region of Uganda across different value chains. The goal is eventually to scale throughout Uganda by working with partners in the different regions.
- Growth of our Asset Portfolio – Over the past five years, we have expanded from a bicycle only offering to add three new assets to our portfolio. The growth of our portfolio allows our team to partner with our clients again and again to create access to agricultural tools that increase farmers productivity, further moving smallholder families out of poverty. Our team is already testing new additions to our portfolio and the results are very exciting.
- Digitization – Our team is ready for rapid growth. We have a proven model and we’re ready to deliver our services across Uganda. As we prepare to enter our scaling stage, we’re focused on ensuring our internal and client facing systems are equally ready and prepared for scale.
I’m extremely grateful and in awe of where Molly has brought Cycle Connect–from a young start-up to an organization that has served over 12,000 Ugandan families. With the strong foundation built by Molly, Cycle Connect is now positioned to create even more impact throughout Uganda and East Africa.
Our team is ready to meet this next chapter and I am ready to lead us there. This is the time to invest in the agriculture sector of Uganda. This is the time to equip rural farmers to ensure they have access to the services to catalyze their families out of poverty for generations to come. This is the time to invest in the mission and vision of Cycle Connect. Together, we can work towards a world where every family living in the last mile is thriving, not merely surviving. If you’re looking to invest your resources into this vision, I would love to connect with you. Let’s bring Cycle Connect into the future together.
With much excitement,
Emmy Okkema, CEO
Where We’re Going
Over the next five years, under the leadership of Emmy Okkema, Cycle Connect is gearing up to:
- Expand across the four different regions of Uganda to create access to thousands of smallholder farmers in deep rural areas
- Create new partnerships to scale our model beyond our team to unlock the next level of impact
- Test and launch productive assets across three different agricultural value chains, diversifying our reach
- Equip over 50,000 smallholder farmers with transformative tools that will impact a total of 250,000 rural Ugandans