We became the first cooperative in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to be Fairtrade-certified early in 2011. It is a very exciting time for us.
For the first time we are finding international buyers who want to know who we are, pay fair prices and form long-term relationships with our cooperative.
It is such a big difference to the desperate situation we have been in for many years – through civil war and conflict, we smuggled our coffee across Lake Kivu into Rwanda. We have sometimes sold it in exchange for soap and clothes. There was no recognition for quality and no interest in us. So many people have died in violence and drowning trying to sell coffee to keep their families alive.
Our communities are in need of many things – medical assistance, access to education, basic home improvements. It is heartening to feel that through the Fairtrade premium, we may be able to start addressing some of these. Read more about our first projects.