In the DRC, Marcelline Budza excels in coffee culture

(Ecofin Agency) – Raised by a mother who sold coffee, Marcelline Budza witnessed the injustice suffered by women involved in this agricultural sector on the island of Idjwi. She founded Rebuild Women’s Hope and her actions to empower rural women have earned her international recognition.

Located on the large island of Idjwi (Lake Kivu) in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Rebuild Women’s Hope cooperative specializes in coffee production. Focused on empowering the disadvantaged, the company has thousands of members, the majority of whom are women coffee farmers. After picking, the berries are washed and sorted. They are then fermented and dried to obtain coffee beans, which will be packed for export. During peak season, RWH employs at least 12,000 people to ensure the harvest.

Marcelline Budza (on the right in the photo), the promoter, grew up in Bukavu, on the southern shore of Lake Kivu, during one of the periods of conflict. Inspired by the resilience of her mother, who raised 4 daughters alone with the money she earned selling coffee and pineapples, the 30-year-old set out to change the situation of rural women. After studying agronomy at the Evangelical University of Africa, she founded Rebuild Women’s Hope in 2013.

On the island of Idjwi, famous for its ideal conditions for Arabica coffee, women have always played a central role in coffee cultivation, although their work has too often been underestimated when it comes to sales and business decisions. .

“At RWH, women are at the center of decision-making. We strive to create a spirit of entrepreneurship and self-management among our members to improve the standard of living in our communities. We believe that a community where women are empowered is a prosperous community”he remembered.

Marcelline Budza’s efforts to improve the living conditions of women on the island have been internationally recognized. Between 2017 and 2020, she was awarded numerous prizes, including the Robert Burns Humanitarian Prize, the French Republic Human Rights Prize, the University of Oslo Human Rights Prize, and the Public Peace Prize.

RWH produces between 6 and 10 containers of coffee per harvest, each containing 19 tons of coffee. The founder aims to reach 20 containers. The coffee comes from the company’s fields, but also from various small producers. To date, it exports to the United States, Europe and Asia.

“Looking forward, we plan to build two more coffee washing stations in 2021 and have our certified organic and fair trade coffee in time for the 2022 harvest.” she added.

Aisha Moyouzame

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