In the historically male-dominated industry of coffee production, there are women who are breaking barriers, pioneering change, and driving innovation.

The Rambagirakawa collective in Northern Province, Rwanda, is an incredible example of such women. At first glance, this might just seem like a delicious brew with a charitable twist. But behind this beautifully juicy and intensely sweet coffee is a remarkable story of innovation and empowerment.

Dukunde Kawa

Rambagirakawa is an all-women collective within Dukunde Kawa. A co-op of farms in Northern Province, Rwanda, Dukunde Kawa receives coffee from hundreds (sometimes thousands) of small holder coffee producers in the area for processing.

With farms being so small (many only a quarter of a hectare), it's impractical to try and separate lots to trace them back to the individual producer, so coffee is often marketed and sold named after the washing station that processed the coffee.

Co-ops like Dukunde Kawa provide farmers with support, education and centralised infrastructure necessary to get Rwandan coffee showcased by the best roasters around the world.

Rambagirakawa

Formed in 2012, Rambagirakawa has advocated tirelessly for greater autonomy, support and resources for Dukunde Kawa’s female landowners and coffee farmers. 

Self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and economic and social independence are all goals for the women of the Rambagirakawa alliance.

Not only do they work to produce traceable women's coffee lots—uncommon in Rwanda—but members actively pursue other income opportunities to diversify the farms operations. Everything they do focuses on creating opportunity and success for the women and children in their community.

Victoria Mukamurenzi

It’s incredibly rare to have a coffee traceable back to a single producer in Rwanda. Many coffees from the country are only traceable to a certain washing station, where hundreds of smallholder farms will process their coffee. This makes it difficult to track where exactly much coffee comes from in the country. 

This reality makes Victoria Mukamurenzi’s lot all the more impressive. 

Not only is this coffee traceable back to her farm, Kinyonzo-Jango, but it’s produced from only 216 coffee trees. This is a small farm. Meticulously cared for by proud women of the Rambagirakawa women's group, the coffee is processed at Dukunde Kawa’s nearby Ruli washing station. Having the station so close to hand allows smaller lots to be processed separately. The result is this delicious red bourbon coffee with notes of strawberry, apple and cherry. 

Driving recognition for impressive women-produced coffee lots, Victoria’s role as vice president of Rambagirakawa means her impact goes far beyond the cup. Her dedication, resourcefulness, and forward-thinking approach represent the essence of the Rambagirakawa collective and their commitment to driving innovation in the coffee industry. 

Savvy and entrepreneurial, Victoria had the idea of teaching fellow Rambagirakawa members to weave baskets and handicrafts, with the goal of generating extra money during the off-harvest period. The idea was well-received by the group, and is now one of their main income-generating activities.

Supporting Strong Women 

Aiming to raise $15,000 by June 2024, all proceeds of this special campaign go towards constructing a daycare centre for the women of Rambagirakawa and the wider coffee community. 

Although it may seem like a simple project, its impact will be far-reaching. A daycare centre will provide a safe environment for working mothers of Rambagirakawa, allowing them to focus on their jobs and contribute to the community's economic growth. 

In a male-dominated industry, the Rambagirakawa women's collective is a shining example of what can happen when women are given the opportunity and support to thrive. Their innovative approach to coffee growing and community development has not only helped them achieve economic independence and formed lifelong bonds between members.

You can support this incredible cause by purchasing a bag of Rwanda Victoria Mukamurenzi at our southern hemisphere roastery cafés or on our Australian, New Zealand and Singapore online stores.

Imagery supplied by Melbourne Coffee Merchants.