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Diplomas for Female Coffee Growers in Rwanda

In Rwanda, coffee production is one of the fastest growing sectors and has fueled the country’s economic development. And with major international buyers interested in Rwanda’s specialty coffee production, Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped ensure that more women are not only a vital part of this growth – but emerge as strong participants in the international coffee market.

More than 800 women in Rwanda graduated in January from a year-long training program run by Bloomberg Philanthropies partner Sustainable Harvest that teaches best practices for growing and harvesting coffee. These women farmers (300 are pictured here) in two rural farming districts of post-conflict Rwanda are learning to deliver high-quality coffee to buyers around the globe, while acquiring a clear path to being economically self-sufficient.

During the training program, women learned all about the coffee production process, including harvest preparation, pruning, pesticides, mulching, tasting of the finished product, and market access. The women work in cooperatives and the coffee produced there is now being roasted and sold throughout Rwanda, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Coffee produced by the women in Rwanda is receiving international acclaim—in 2014 this coffee won a HarVee Award in Panama for high quality coffee at the 12th annual Let’s Talk Coffee event, which brings together coffee growers and marketers from around the world.

Sustainable Harvest Rwanda is a non-governmental organization that is working in two districts of the country – Nyaruguru District, Southern Province and Kayonza District, Eastern Province – to provide long-term economic opportunities for women. This work is part of the overall training and education efforts sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies aimed at supporting Rwanda’s national plan to bring their citizens into the middle class and enable local women to support themselves and their families.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies program, in partnership with Women for Women International and Sustainable Harvest, addresses the educational and vocational needs of under skilled women in rural areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. It begins with a basic skills training provided by Women for Women International focused on financial literacy, rights, small business training, and health and wellness. From there, each woman receives an individualized vocational plan supporting her skills and interests—specialized training in run by Sustainable Harvest is one of many vocational tracks available to the women.

Through this Bloomberg Philanthropies program, Sustainable Harvest will provide 3,500 low-income women farmers  in Rwanda with specialized training on how to grow, harvest, and sell their coffee to the international market and we congratulate the first 800 coffee program graduates!