In early February, 2016, I visited Abakundakawa (Rushashi district, Rwanda), and spent a majority of my time meeting with Colette Nakabonya and Cecile Mukahirwa (President and Secretary, respectively, of Hingakawa women’s association within Abakundakawa). Atlas purchased a container of Hingakawa in 2015, and we plan to bring additional lots in the coming seasons.
Caption: Standing with Colette Nakabonya and Cecile Mukahirwa on their recently purchased plot of communal land.
During my time I was able to interview Cecile about the work the association is doing (translated into Kinyarwanda by Kevin Nkunzimana, managing director of Misozi Coffee Company)
SHE: What does “Hingakawa” mean in Kinyarwanda?
CM: It means “Grow Coffee”
SHE: How many women are in the group, and when was it established?
CM: Approximately 400 women, and it established in 2008.
SHE: What have you used for the premiums?
CM: We bought some domestic animals (cows, goats, pigs). Among our members, we now have 150 goats and 150 pigs. Our future plan is to increase the number of the animals so every member can have either a pig or a goat. We also have started a small credit and lending program among their members.
We used to own 5 cows, but we sold the cows in order to pay for part of the land we are standing on in 2015. We also have 15 sewing machines. 30 women have learned out to sew, and now are teaching additional women how to sew. We use the sewing building twice/week to sew clothes and children’s uniforms.
We hope to put a small nursery school on the plot of land, so that women can become employed at the nursery school to watch the children.
We are going to first build the training center on the land, but would like to also build a guest house on the land as another source of income. There is no place for guests to sleep in the area, so guests come from Kigali, stay, go back to Kigali. It’s too far. The training center would be for sewing, family planning, coffee training, and nutrition site for babies and young children.
SHE: Are there female board members for Abakundakawa?
CM: We have 1 woman on the board member for Abakundakawa. But another woman is a part of the control committee.
SHE: The quality of your coffee is very good. Thank you for all of your hard work.
CM: Thank you very much for buying coffee from us. We want to keep the relationship growing, and we are looking for and happy to have a permanent buyer, for a good price. So year after year when we are growing the coffee we can think of the buyer.