When we began our program in Rwanda, women coffee farmers grew low-grade coffee and received below- market prices for their unprocessed crop. They did not know the correct color of ripeness and had no understanding of what happened to their coffee “cherries” once sold. They had never seen nor tasted brewed coffee.
Sustainable Growers partnered with local government authorities and 80 farmer cooperative groups to train almost 33,000 women coffee farmers in Rwanda and over 4,500 women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, impacting over 185,000 family members.
Farmers participating in our program have produced more volume of high-quality coffees. Sales revenues to cooperatives have increased and returned more income to farmers' pockets. Most importantly, we've helped women coffee farmers understand the entire value chain, beyond their coffee trees, and the income opportunities that come with it.
In Rwanda, we built a social enterprise called Question Coffee and showcased our program's coffees in a cafe. It helped build a local demand for specialty coffee. In December 2018, the New York Times cited it as one of the top five places to visit in Kigali.
Today, our wholesale business sells our cooperatives' coffee to every major international hotel in Rwanda, the national airline, the national parks and local restaurants. Proceeds are reinvested in our training program.
In Colombia, we work with 500 women coffee growers through Coocentral's Café Mujeres (Women's Coffee) in the Huila municipalities of Garzón, Pital, and El Agrado. Through best agricultural practices training, the women learn technical skills in coffee harvesting, fermentation, and drying that they use to develop a distinctive, high-grade coffee.