A Social Business Incubator In The Eastern Congo
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CPNCK: Success for coffee cooperatives


In 2013, we provided a loan to CPNCK, the coffee cooperative on the island of Idjwi in Lake Kivu. It enabled their first ever export of a container of coffee, something which only one other cooperative in Kivu had managed since war decimated the coffee industry back in the '90s.

This is huge progress and a major shift for coffee growers on the island who had previously been forced to transport coffee across the lake to Rwanda where the beans were absorbed into the Rwandan coffee industry. Frequent storms on the lake had drowned hundreds of growers whose canoes and small boats were swamped. Those who survived were kept in poverty by low prices.

The coffee growers formed their own co-operative called CPNCK to change this situation for the better by organising direct sales to buyers from Europe and the US. This increases income and, by negating the need to transport the coffee to Rwanda, saves lives.

Four years on and having recycled our loan several times, membership to CPNCK has grown and coffee exports from Idjwi are really picking up. In part this is because organisations like Rikolto have helped the cooperative to produce coffee of the highest quality. But it’s also because Ensemble has been patient and supportive throughout. There is now real momentum and CPNCK coffee will soon be available in Starbucks.

Alongside CPNCK we’ve supported Kawa Kabuya who are based in Butembo. They also produce coffee with cupping scores of 86 or higher and have won distribution in Starbucks as well as with speciality roasters Or Coffee in Belgium. Demand for coffee produced by CPNCK and Kawa Kabuya is on the rise and the coffee growers throughout Kivu are winning a well deserved reputation for some of highest quality coffee in the world.