The region around the Great Lakes of Central Africa — Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — is better known for its conflict than for its coffee. However, these countries are traditional coffee-producing lands that have emerged as a vital source of high-end coffee in less than ten years. The potential advantages of the Great Lakes region producing fair coffee are a direct consequence of hard-working farmers, high-growing elevation, volcanic soil and the temperature-moderating influence of the region’s freshwater lakes.
In 2002, several farmer groups near the Nyungwe Forest in southwest Rwanda set up the coffee cooperative KOAKAKA. Step by step, they expanded their organisation to include around 70 collection points where members bring their freshly picked berries and two washing stations where the first steps of the process take place. It wasn’t long before KOAKAKA received the Fairtrade label. With support from the government and NGOs, and with the help of Fairtrade premiums, they optimised their most important asset over the years: their arabica’s excellent quality grown at high altitudes. Speciality coffees are in great demand on the international market, and in 2016 the organisation also won first prize in the Rwanda Cup of Excellence, an annual competition between coffee cooperatives.
KOAKAKA has 1300 members: 1000 men and 300 women. In addition to seeds, fertilisers and interest-free loans, the members also receive health insurance and education grants.
In 2015, KOAKAKA applied for marketing support from the Trade for Development Centre. TDC coaches travelled to Rwanda for four modules over the course of 2016 and 2017. During the first session, one thing that immediately came to light was the dependence on Rwashoscco, an umbrella organisation that KOAKAKA is a shareholder of. The Trade for Development Centre assisted KOAKAKA with coaching in marketing and €46,475 of financial support between January 2016 and December 2017. The support aimed to contribute to a steady stream of revenue by improving market access and reinforcing their organisational capacity in marketing, communication and sales.
The coaching was organised in two phases:
1. Tailor-made training that aimed at strengthening their candidature for the full coaching in marketing. That training covered the analysis of key figures and marketing data about the organisation while analysing the environment to outline threats, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses.
2. Tailor-made coaching on marketing strategies by covering market analysis (internal/external) strategy definitions, target market identification, choice of marketing, promotion, communications and new consumer prospection.
Resultaten en impact
The partnership led to an 18.61% increase in turnover, 69.01% selling price increase, the acquisition of four new clients, the participation at two fairs, and a 15.94% increase in producer income.