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


Back 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. At that time only one other cooperative in Kivu had managed the same feat since war decimated the coffee industry back in the 90’s.

It was tangible progress and a major shift for coffee growers on the island who, in the absence of a legitimate buyer, had previously been forced to transport coffee across the lake to Rwanda where the beans were absorbed into the Rwandan coffee industry. Storms on the lake had drowned hundreds of growers whose canoes and small boats were swamped by the frequent storms. 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 sales direct to buyers from Europe and the US. This increases income and, by negating the need to transport the coffee to Rwanda, maybe saves lives.

Four years on and having recycled our loan several times, coffee exports from Idjwi are really beginning to pick up. In part this is because organisations like VECO have helped the cooperative to produce coffee of the highest quality. But it’s also because Ensemble has been patient and supportive for four years and counting.

Membership of CPNCK has grown and the washing stations recently installed with the help of VECO have lifted quality. 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 too are producing coffee with cupping scores of 86 or higher and have won distribution in Starbucks as well as with speciality roaster such as Or Coffee. Demand for coffee produced by CPNCK and Kawa Kabuya is on the rise and the coffee growers throughout Kivu are winning a reputation for some of highest quality coffee in the world