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Bloomberg Philanthropies Expands Women’s Economic Development Program in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo with Renewed $10 Million Gift to the Relationship Coffee Institute

Today at the Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S.-Africa Business Forum, the foundation announced it will invest an additional $10 million to expand the organization’s women’s economic development program in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Through a grant to the Relationship Coffee Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the livelihoods of rural Rwandan women coffee farmers through training and market access, more women will be able to benefit and participate in Africa’s economic growth.

“In Sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural production, tourism and construction are rapidly growing industries that are fueling economic development. Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped ensure that more women are not only a vital part of this growth – but emerge as strong participants and beneficiaries,” said Patricia E. Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Relationship Coffee Institute is a key partner in helping women access one of the most valuable agriculture commodities; coffee.  Currently, the coffee supply chain struggles to provide 25 million smallholder farmers with a fair and sustainable means to meet their basic needs. The problem is especially acute for the estimated 12 million smallholder farmers who are women, most of whom are marginalized and left out of the global marketplace. Without access to knowledge, markets, and buyer networks, smallholder farmers miss the opportunity to make needed income to feed their families and care for their communities. The Relationship Coffee Institute connects women farmers to resources and global markets so they can meet the international demand for specialty coffee.

The new round of funding will allow the institute to reach an additional 20,000 women and builds on a previous commitment of over $2 million.  In 2013, with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Relationship Coffee Institute’s main partner, Sustainable Harvest has continued to expand its women’s coffee program, and by 2015 was sourcing nearly 1 million pounds annually of women-grown coffee from nine countries.  The funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies allowed Sustainable Harvest to scale its social enterprise model by working with government and local NGOs. As a result, Relationship Coffee Institute was able to reach a larger number of women, many of them widows with limited agronomical skills.

Since 2013, there have been clear results including helping women:

  • Learn how to negotiate with exporters
  • Conduct transparent business with coffee buyers
  • Learn how to create effective business and financial plans
  • See their coffee as a finished product sold in hotels and at the Question Coffee Café
  • Connect with international buyers at Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda

The Rwandan government, after seeing women enrolled in the program present at a major coffee conference, Let’s Talk Coffee, asked the Rwanda Coffee Institute to implement its training to all 400,000 Rwandan coffee farmers in efforts to bolster economic growth.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, agricultural production, tourism and construction are rapidly growing industries that are fueling economic development.

Bloomberg Philanthropies history of creating opportunities in Africa’s rising economy:

 Through our partnerships with Women for Women International, the Relationship Coffee Institute and Sustainable Harvest we are supporting women in Sub-Saharan Africa with innovative workforce training to gain new job skills, basic business training, life skills and support networks in these sectors providing participants with the tools and resources to sustain an income, learn the importance of saving, and small business management.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has been involved in supporting projects across Africa and is currently active in more than 36 countries. The initial focus was on women’s economic development, malaria, and maternal health was later expanded to include public health initiatives, such as road safety and tobacco control. The foundation also works with several cities in Africa to reduce their carbon footprints through C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. Additionally, the foundation is supporting efforts to improve the quality of financial journalism through the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa to promote economic growth.

Across all its efforts, Bloomberg Philanthropies works closely with partner organizations and governments in countries where the foundation gives. Its focus on reforming and effectively implementing strong policies ensures that Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts will be sustainable and continue to help save and improve lives beyond its support.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies U.S. Africa Business Forum, hosted in New York City, aims to strengthen trade and financial ties between the United States and Africa. Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce co-host the forum, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent for African heads of government and American business leaders. This Forum is hosted on the occasion of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $510 million. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, InstagramSnapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

Rebecca Carriero,, +1 212-205-0182