Origin: Democratic Republic of Congo
Estate: Idjwi Island - Rebuild Womens Hope
Owner: 1800 RWH Members
Region: Idjwi Island, Lake Kivu, Eastern Congo
Altitude: 1800-2000 masl
Harvest Year: 2017
SCAA Cup Score: 86
Cupping Notes: Black cherry, bright orange with a juicy cola acidity
Rebuild Women's Hope (RWH) is a non-profit organisation based in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. It was established in 2013 by gender equity pioneer Marceline Budza, with the aim of empowering Congolese women. As Marceline herself states;
“In the DRC, a woman has been traditionally considered less valuable than a man; merely an instrument of sexual satisfaction or a producer of children, she is considered incapable of contributing to her family and community’s needs through dignified work.”
In 2015, Falcon's export partner in the DRC, CoffeeLac - alongside SHIFT Social Impact Solutions and others - teamed up with Rebuild Women's Hope in order to leverage the incredible potential that coffee has in creating economic opportunities for female smallholders on Lake Idjwi. Together, the partners have provided members of RWH with the tools and the know-how to take control of their economic future by integrating them into the coffee value chain. The Coffeelac Rebuild Women’s Hope program has included building two washing stations on Idjwi Island - where our Rebuild Women's Hope coffees are processed - and entrepreneurship and economic empowerment training for RWH’s members.
Idjwi Island is situated on Lake Kivu, almost equidistant from Rwanda and mainland DRC. Up until very recently, coffee produced on Idjwi had no export market, and was sold to middle men who would smuggle it across the water in boats into neighbouring countries for re-sale. Despite also having optimal conditions for coffee cultivation - such as altitudes of up to 2,000 metres - the quality of production had always historically suffered, due to lack of markets, agri-inputs, agronomy training and finance. This has since changed dramatically, as the work of CoffeeLac in training RWH in best agronomic practices, and facilitating new, quality-focussed processing protocols and infrastructure, has seen the group's coffees break into the specialty market, where it attracts price premiums that have a huge benefit on the livelihoods of its farmers.
Today, RWH has expanded to 1,800 members growing high-quality coffee and the program continues to build a spirit of entrepreneurship among the women on Idjwi Island. The close collaboration has allowed RWH and its members to realise their dream of rebuilding hope and dignity among women coffee farmers in the DRC.
DR CONGO - Rebuild Womans Hope Project - Per Kg
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa, is a country traumatized by decades of civil conflict. It is estimated that over 5 million people have lost their lives since 2000, with millions more displaced. The wealth of the country and the root of the conflict lies in its vast mineral deposits.
The development of the country has been held back by political instability, lack of infrastructure, deep-rooted corruption and a history of exploitation from both its colonial past and in more recent times, commercial exploitation in pursuit of its mineral wealth.
As with its neighbours, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda – coffee has come to represent a significant opportunity for economic regeneration and social impact.
Situated on the Equator, the DRC receives up to 2000mm of rainfall annually. This, combined with volcanic soils and high elevation, create the perfect conditions for cultivating coffee, especially on the hills and mountains surrounding Lake Kivu, in the East of the country.
In the 1970’s the DRC was one of the leading exporters of coffee in the world. Today, production stands at 10% of what it once was. Until recently, instability and poor infrastructure have limited farmer’s access to market. Until recently, farmers would have little option but to sell coffee to middle men, who would transport parchment across Lake Kivu in small boats at night into neighbouring Rwanda or Burundi. Many men have lost their lives on this perilous journey, drowning from capsized boats and bad weather.
Creating market access for Congo’s smallholders is key to ensuring the flow of revenue back to the country. Increased income for farmers will mean greater investment in improving yields and quality, helping to drive prices to more sustainable levels.