A Rwandan Cuppa

Did you know Rwanda produces some of the very best Coffee in the world?

If you walk into a Starbucks in central London and order a Cappuccino, there’s a fairly good chance you’re about to taste one of Rwanda’s most significant exports.

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The story of Rwandan coffee mirrors the impressive progress the country has made since the well documented troubles of the mid 1990s. Once known as a producer of mediocre coffee that attracted little attention from discriminating importers and consumers. Today, Rwandan coffee is increasingly recognized as a premium, high quality product.

What’s driven this rapid turn-around?

With ambitious government targets providing the fuel for development (an annual ‘export growth’ target has been set at an incredible 29%), the entire industry has been liberalized and reshaped. Hundreds of coffee-washing stations have been built across the country, trade barriers have been removed, investment incentives have been put in place, cooperatives have been formed and donors have supported the development of market links between producers and foreign buyers.

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However, once again sitting at the heart of all these changes is the instalment and facilitation of entrepreneurship within the Rwandan Coffee Industry.

Munya, an AEC entrepreneur and long-time coffee farmer in Rwanda’s Eastern Province knows the importance of coffee to his country. After years of coffee management, he’s an expert at monitoring coffee beans for fungi and disease and he supervises washing ‘green’ beans into ‘parchment’, making sure the crops he delivers for export are perfect.

(next time you’re told by a hipster barista that their brewing techniques guarantee the best coffee, be sure to remind them that it’s actually the lengthy and labour intensive production process that most impacts the quality of the final product)

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While he is intimately familiar with the weather’s effect on coffee plants, Munya struggles with financial bookkeeping, securing capital for expansion, and telling the story of his Rwandan coffee to prospective buyers. AEC have been helping him to do all these things and as a result, Munya’s business capacity has grown at his coffee processing facility. He’s hired two permanent staff and 25-45 seasonal staff, adding dozens of valuable new jobs across the hills of rural Rwanda.

The Run Rwanda team will be meeting Munya and bringing to life his journey in Coffee production and exportation, and the future’s looking very bright for Munya and the 400,000 other local Rwandan farmers, who depend on coffee farming for their livelihood.

In the first 3 months of 2016 alone, Rwanda exported a record 3,310,339 million kilos of coffee, so next time you’re popping into your local coffee shop, perhaps think about how something as simple as the coffee bean has helped to drive the social and economic progression of one of the world’s smallest countries.

 

 

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