Rebuild Women’s Hope, Democratic Republic of Congo

Sweet coffee with a chocolate and cherry cola flavour produced by a women’s collective in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is perfect for growing coffee with its warmth, high altitudes, and fertile soils but this has not been taken advantage of because of civil war and ongoing political instability. But now the Government and people of DRC are starting to see coffee exports as a positive way of rebuilding their economy.

One particular problem that is rife in the DRC is violence against women. This particular coffee comes from the Rebuild Women’s Hope (RWH) project, founded in 2013 by Congolese business woman Marcelline Budza who aims to use coffee to tackle this. RWH teaches women how to grow high quality coffee, provides access to high quality coffee processing facilities, and funding and support to help them grow their businesses. She also helps to connect them with international coffee buyers and uses their collective bargaining power to fetch a good price for their coffee. In the DRC women are seen as being of lower value than men so this helps them to assert their economic independence and prove the value of women and their work.

The collective is now made up of nearly 2,000 members, all women based on Idjwi Island on the edges of Lake Kivu where the rich soils and altitudes of 2,000 metres make for perfect coffee growing conditions. The political unrest and poor infrastructure meant that previously coffee grown here had to be sold to middle-men and smuggled across the lake to neighbouring Rwanda, meaning Congolese coffee growers got very little money. Now projects springing up in this region such as Rebuild Women’s Hope means that coffee can be sold direct to speciality coffee buyers for higher prices and the excellent coffee they produce can be enjoyed across the world.

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