one of the leading coffee co-operatives in north kivu
Partner since: 2015
The DRC is resource-rich but lacking stability and infrastructure due to years of civil war. The nation once had a thriving coffee industry but today needs a development strategy to help producers fulfil their high potential and to improve farmers’ quality of life. Coffee production was nationalised in the 1970s and grew successfully up to the early 1990s, by which time the DRC was producing 120,000 tonnes per year. Coffee production dramatically declined during the two Congolese civil wars. It was reported that in 2010, output was less than a tenth of the harvest twenty years earlier. The lack of an export market during and after the Congolese wars meant that farmers were forced to sell their beans in their raw state to be processed in neighbouring countries. This is less profitable than selling processed coffee.
The Kawa Kabuya Coffee Cooperative was established in 2010 to support coffee producers on Lake Eduard near Virunga National Park. Farmers members are grouped around micro-washing stations that serve about 50 producers. To join, each member contributes $50 to help build the infrastructure of the station and buy necessary materials.
Ensemble provided a recyclable loan to help Kawa Kabuya export coffee to European and US buyers.
Kawa Kabuya now exports 14 containers of coffee per year, thanks to the determination of its 2,500 members. Members of the cooperative saw their initial investment repaid within the first year of operations and their returns doubled within two years. This has had a direct impact on the ability of coffee growers to send their children to school. In January 2018, the cooperative won the ‘Taste of Harvest’ competition for the best arabica coffee in the DRC. Their product now has a cupping score of 84, making it a speciality product. 64% of the price that Kawa Kabuya gets for its coffee goes back to products. The other 37% is used to pay taxes, milling costs and permanent staff within the cooperative. What remains is invested into the micro-washing station funds, which are used for maintenance and improvements.
Kawa Kibuya are dedicated to growing their business relationships as well as the reputation of Eastern Congo are a fertile source of high quality coffee. Increasingly they are collaborating with other coffee cooperatives in the region to attend industry events to raise awareness of Kivu coffee and this outreach is having a positive impact on operations. Kawa Kibuya is currently in discussions with investment banks in Europe about providing finance to help further scale their distribution operations.