The word ‘ISHEMA’ is native Rwandan and means ‘PRIDE’.
A group of young men and women working under Abakundakawa Cooperative grow coffee in the highlands of Rushashi in Nothern Province of Rwanda.
In 1999, Abakundakawa cooperative was created and it was legally registered in 2004. But from its establishment up to 2018, the cooperative was dominated by old farmers in terms of membership; most of them are the parents of the current active youth. Only less than 100 youth were members and inactive.
“In the beginning the youth were just enjoying working at cooperative coffee washing stations as casual workers without thinking on possibilities of becoming coffee producers and entrepreneurs. Like many other youths in the world, we wanted only quick wins. We could not imagine how we can invest in coffee production, a crop that takes almost 3 years to get your first harvest.
In 2019, our attitude changed. Abakundakawa cooperative in collaboration with its partners, mainly Agriterra, organized mobilization events in our village aiming at attracting youths to join coffee sector not only in production but also in the entire value chain. These events were conducted in form of football tournament and we enjoyed. The local government, cooperative and Agriterra have clearly explained the role of young people in the sustainability of the coffee sector."
Jean Marie Ntakirutimana, Business Advisor at Agriterra, adds: "After realizing that the cooperative is much willing to involve youth in their future plan, I proposed to create a special brand for youth and the cooperative. They went on with the idea and although it is at initial stage, they are hoping to export the first coffee under youth brand this coming months. There is already a buyer who has shown interest in buying coffee under this initiative. I strongly believe that in near future, this brand will be popular worldwide and both youths and cooperative will benefit from it."
Latest update (7 July 2021): The first batch of green beans under the youth brand is sold! A total of 2.7 metric tons was bought by This Side Up, a Dutch coffee buyer.
The youth will get a bonus for coffee that is being sold under their brand. If you want to become part of the youth council, you need at least 100 coffee trees. The youth council currently has 400 members, growing coffee on 2 hectares of land in total. They sell the coffee cherries to the cooperative, like all other farmers.
the cooperative has 2 brands: women coffee and youth coffee. All coffee is sold by coop. As long as the coop exports coffee under the name of youth, they get bonuses in return.
Now the youth council has also started a compost business on the side. These earning go to directly to the youth group.
Remember it all started with a football tournament (see other blogpost on this website), followed by a Kick-Off Workshop, the formation of a youth council, different training that were offered to young people and now we are aiming high at the international market,…..The best is yet to come!
You can download the file with Ishema's flyer down below.