How Uganda is financing its top cyclists

Yusufu Mbaziira founded a bicycle courier inside his small town, Kasubi, a Kampala suburb in 2002. He hopes that the courier service can empower the riders financially, while helping to produce world class cyclists. Ciara Lee reports.

(Reuters) – Mixing work with pleasure – that’s what these riders from Kampala’s Cycling Club are doing.

The team’s operating a courier service – providing riders with an income while keeping them in peak condition.


“Before, it was really very challenging maintaining cycling without having the source of income to support the cycling sport and we looked at what could we do to support the athletes to earn a living. Cycling was recognized in Uganda as the sport for the poor. Couriers are now the top riders in the country, not because that they are with Kampala Cycling Club as one of the biggest clubs but because they are full time on the bicycle. It gives them more time to train. We expect that these couriers, at one day, one time, will win in the bike messenger uniform on the international platform.”

Mbaziira hopes one day that will be the Olympics.

The Ugandan cycling veteran was inspired to start the service after a trip to the Netherlands in 2010, where cycle couriers are a common sight.

A cycling errand within Kampala costs on average 5 US dollars, with riders completing multiple jobs a day.


“As a cyclist and a courier, our motto is ‘report slow riding’ we are encouraged to ride fast to deliver parcels ad that is good training for any major cycling competition. This job is preparing me to win races and when I win I earn money too.”

And it’s going down well in a city where congestion often brings roads to a halt, with around 30 riders working for the scheme.

But cycling in Uganda, where there are no designated bicycle lanes, can be tough.

Uganda has one of the worst road-safety records in Africa