November 22, 2021
Westrock Coffee works directly with smallholder farmers around the globe to create some of the finest coffees in the world. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages and 80% of it is produced by 25 million smallholders. It’s been five years since we introduced you to Christine, a widowed mother of nine and one of our Westrock Coffee Farmer Partners in Rwanda. In 2019, Christine shared an incredible story of how her partnership with Rwanda Trading Company (RTC) helped her family to persevere and substantially grow her coffee farm after the loss of her husband.
Recently, Christine connected with our team to provide us with an update on her journey. Westrock’s collaboration with RTC has created a trusted alliance for Christine. She has been a top performer in her ATP farmer training group for several years. Christine shares, “When RTC came, I started getting a higher income because I learned how to increase coffee production. Every season I have increased my income, I have planted more coffee trees. Sometimes people before [RTC] would take my coffee cherries and not pay me for them.”
“There is a lot coffee has helped me do—educate my children, feed my children and buy medical insurance.”
As a mother of nine, family is top priority in Christine’s life. Her hard work and dedication to her coffee farm has earned Christine the opportunity to provide a secure life for her family. She has paid to educate all nine of her children, provided essential resources for her family, and she is able to reinvest in her farm for generations to come.
Following in her footsteps, one of Christine’s oldest children has developed a passion for farming. In 2020, her son planted his first 400 trees near his mother’s farm, and he has plans to expand his farm by 75% within the next two years.
In countries like Rwanda, Westrock Coffee has remained committed to our partnerships with smallholder farmers to secure economic freedoms and build strong, transparent supply chains. Christine has utilized her success to become a leader in her community, a place where female leadership on coffee farms and in the coffee business is not unheard of, but still below the 50% equitable line.
Christine has served as an elected group leader and contributed to the overall improvement of her community. When asked about her role in the community, Christine gleefully shared, “I am proud to be a leader and a respectable member of my community. I am the president of a savings group. I am also the president of the farmer group in this area.”
Christine remains committed to operating a successful business. When asked about her future and dreams- Christine smiled, leaned back in her seat, and looked at the ceiling. She shared, “With coffee, now if I get money, I have many dreams. First, I would fix my house so that when my children visit, they come and visit a nice place. The second, to build a boutique or small shop nearby. The third, I would like to buy more cows.” Finally, and still with a broad smile, Christine told us, “Fourth, buy another land, and plant more coffee trees.”
If hope was an expression – she was most certainly wearing it.
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