Cows To Rwanda
Within an article written for coffee publication, Standart, our CEO and founder Tim Williams, reflects on his pathway to igniting ‘The Gitesi Project’ — a grassroots initiative to improve the life of Rwandan coffee farmers.
Many years ago now, a shipment of green coffee I’d purchased from Rwanda arrived in bad condition. The company I was buying for couldn’t accept it or pay for it and the importer refused to pay the exporter, so the producer posted a loss and the farmers never got their secondary payment for the season. While it wasn’t their fault, the growers wore the financial cost of the problem and this never sat comfortably with me.
Overhauling entrenched financial structures feels so overwhelming that it’s really easy to not even try. While I knew I couldn’t fix the problem overnight, I was keen to see a degree of improved economic stability for these farmers.
Together with my friend and owner of the washing station Aime Gahizi we launched the Gitesi Project — a grassroots, charitable project supporting farming families in Kibuye, Rwanda. Now, every year, I dedicate some small parcels of time and ‘leverage my network’ (as LinkedIn-ers like to say) to raise funds to buy dairy cows and health insurance for the farmers.
Regardless of a fluctuating commodity market or unpredictable yields, we’re helping to create some extra cushioning for these coffee-growing households. Whether the crop is good or bad, the cows will be producing milk which can nourish children or be sold at the market. Since launching, we’ve placed cows with around 50 households, and provided health insurance for over 100 of the community’s poorest farmers.
There’s still an infinite amount of work to do but we’re chipping away at it. It’s the closest thing I have to a ‘hobby’ and, selfishly, I love the feeling I get from doing it.