Rebuild Women’s Hope (RWH) is a non-profit organisation based in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. It was established in 2013 by gender equity pioneer Marceline Budza, with the aim of empowering Congolese women. As Marceline herself states;
“In the DRC, a woman has been traditionally considered less valuable than a man; merely an instrument of sexual satisfaction or a producer of children, she is considered incapable of contributing to her family and community’s needs through dignified work.”
In 2015, Falcon’s export partner in the DRC, CoffeeLac – alongside SHIFT Social Impact Solutions and others – teamed up with Rebuild Women’s Hope in order to leverage the incredible potential that coffee has in creating economic opportunities for female smallholders on Lake Idjwi. Together, the partners have provided members of RWH with the tools and the know-how to take control of their economic future by integrating them into the coffee value chain. The Coffeelac Rebuild Women’s Hope program has included building two washing stations on Idjwi Island – where our Rebuild Women’s Hope coffees are processed – and entrepreneurship and economic empowerment training for RWH’s members.
Idjwi Island is situated on Lake Kivu, almost equidistant from Rwanda and mainland DRC. Up until very recently, coffee produced on Idjwi had no export market, and was sold to middle men who would smuggle it across the water in boats into neighbouring countries for re-sale. Despite also having optimal conditions for coffee cultivation – such as altitudes of up to 2,000 metres – the quality of production had always historically suffered, due to lack of markets, agri-inputs, agronomy training and finance. This has since changed dramatically, as the work of CoffeeLac in training RWH in best agronomic practices, and facilitating new, quality-focussed processing protocols and infrastructure, has seen the group’s coffees break into the specialty market, where it attracts price premiums that have a huge benefit on the livelihoods of its farmers.
Today, RWH has expanded to 1,800 members growing high-quality coffee and the program continues to build a spirit of entrepreneurship among the women on Idjwi Island. The close collaboration has allowed RWH and its members to realise their dream of rebuilding hope and dignity among women coffee farmers in the DRC.
In 2017, Marcline won the prestigious Robert Burns Humanitarian Award for her role in helping transform the lives of women in DRC.