Minister Vincent Karega Visits Coffee Cooperative to Meet TechnoServe Clients

KIGALI, RWANDA, JUNE 14, 2007 —Minister of State Vincent Karega met with small-scale coffee growers and TechnoServe staff members in Muhanga District today to learn how a coffee initiative is helping coffee farmers produce specialty coffee for the first time.

Faustin Nsanzabaganwa, President of KOBAKAMU Cooperative, a TechnoServe-assisted coffee cooperative, took time out from managing the cooperative's coffee washing station in the morning to speak with Minister Karega and give a tour of the cooperative's facilities. The KOBAKAMU Cooperative is one of five cooperatives that have been supported by TechnoServe during the past two months to launch new mini Coffee Washing Stations that cost less than twenty million Rwandan Francs to construct. "These mini coffee washing stations offer an opportunity for coffee farmers in remote areas to produce specialty coffee for sale to international buyers," said Paul Stewart, TechnoServe/Rwanda program director.

In partnership with OCIR-CAFÉ, TechnoServe has launched a coffee development project in Rwanda that aims to replicate TechnoServe's successful coffee program in Tanzania. In Tanzania, TechnoServe has supported the launch of 55 mini coffee washing stations that are owned and managed by smallholder coffee farmers. These coffee washing stations have created more than 500 new rural jobs and have enabled 6,000 farmers to earn price premiums of more than 70% during the last 4 years.

TechnoServe is supporting the repositioning of Rwanda as a leading producer of specialty coffee by helping coffee cooperatives to become professional specialty-focused businesses. TechnoServe's business advisors are teaching business skills and helping farmers boost production and improve quality.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or improve more than 2,000 businesses, benefiting millions of people in 32 countries. TechnoServe is currently working to build and expand businesses in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and India. TechnoServe has been recognized as one of the world's "Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs" by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.