February 26, 2024

From the South Eastern banks of Lake Kivu, in the Western Province of Rwanda, lush dark green coffee trees terrace up the hillsides under bright blue skies.  Women, with their hair wrapped in vibrantly patterned fabrics, traverse the steep hills of the Nyamasheke District carefully hand picking ripe coffee berries under the long summer sun.  They bring their harvest each day to the Muhororo washing station to be sold and processed.  Owned by the Rumenerangabo family, the washing station is much more than a hub for coffee, it is a center for the community.  

Celestin Rumenerangabo has been a part of this community for 65 years.  Like so many other Rwandans, his story is one of struggle, diaspora, and return.  In 1973, at only 14 years of age, he walked three days to Kigali to seek work that would allow him to earn enough to care for his single mother.  Upon returning to his village in 1976, he bought his first piece of land and planted 380 coffee trees.  Over the next nearly two decades, Mr. Rumenerangabo, his new wife, and his mother grew their business to include more than 14 coffee collection sites, with new accurate scales that allowed farmers to get accurate pay for their harvest.  

In April of 1994, long standing ethnic tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi people erupted into one of the most brutal genocides the world had ever seen.  Within only 100 days, nearly 800,000 people were murdered in Rwanda, most of them Tutsi men.  At the early onset of the violence, Mr. Rumenerangabo took his family and fled across the waters of Lake Kivu to Idjwi Island (part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo).  Here they lived as refugees for four years, until they were able to return to the Nyamasheke district to restart their lives and their coffee farms.  

From the very beginning as a young boy, Mr. Rumenerangabo believed in the power of coffee to create economic opportunity and bring prosperity to his community.  Today, the Rumenerangabo family operates the Rugori Women’s Crown Program, which seeks to empower women by investing in their health, education and providing resources for economic growth.  The program promotes gender equality, reduces poverty, and fosters the adoption of sustainable farming practices that lead to an inclusive, resilient and thriving coffee sector for Rwanda.  

Hacea Coffee Source has committed to this shared vision by making a donation equal to 10% of the FOB coffee purchase price to the Rugori Women’s Crown Program.  This donation provides the opportunity for roasters of every size to be a part of the program through their purchase of coffees from the Muhororo washing station.  

The first goal of the Rugori Women’s Crown Program is to improve the health and wellbeing of women and children through increased access to medical care, safe childcare, and nutrition.  In 2023, the Rugori Program provided health insurance to 203 farmers.  In 2024, the number is expected to grow to 250 farmers.  The Rugori Program is also currently working to build a childcare facility for the farming families around the Muhororo washing station.  The childcare facility will provide farming families with a safe place for their children, while also providing ample nutrition and basic healthcare for the children attending.  Without safe childcare spaces, parents must choose to leave children with extended family or even older siblings while they work through the busy harvest and processing seasons.  The childcare center is planned to open in the next 2-3 years, with continued help and financial support from the coffee community members.

The second goal of the Rugori Women’s Crown Program is to develop a livestock and kitchen garden project that contributes to the health, economic development and social cohesion of the farmer’s community. Through careful planning and use of livestock with high value breeding returns, the investment is projected to provide 5x-10x returns to the recipient of the livestock, as each year the animal is able to be bred and the offspring incorporated into the family economy.

Goats can be highly beneficial for women coffee farmers and offer multifaceted contribution to household income,  weed control, providing valuable fertilizer, withstanding environmental challenges, requiring low maintenance, and promoting sustainable farming practices.

 Income Generation

Goats can serve as a source of additional income for women coffee farmers. They can sell goat milk, meat, and other products derived from goats. This diversification of income streams can contribute to the economic stability of the farmers and their families. On average one goat can yield additional $50 in one year, $150 in two years and $250 in three to four years.

Weed Control

Goats are known for their ability to graze on various types of vegetation, including weeds. In coffee plantations, controlling weeds is essential to ensure the optimal growth of coffee plants. Goats can be used to graze between the coffee rows, helping to keep the area clean and free from invasive plants that may compete with the coffee plants for nutrients.

Fertilizer Production

Goats produce manure, which is a valuable organic fertilizer. The manure from goats can be used to enrich the soil in coffee plantations, providing essential nutrients for the coffee plants. This natural fertilizer can improve soil fertility, water retention, and overall soil structure.

Drought Resistance

Goats are generally more resilient to harsh environmental conditions, including drought, compared to some other livestock. In regions where water scarcity is a concern, goats can be a suitable livestock option, as they are adapted to survive with limited water resources.

Low Maintenance

Goats are relatively easy to manage and require less infrastructure compared to larger livestock. They are adaptable to various environments and can thrive in areas with limited resources.


In many societies, women are often involved in small-scale agriculture, and goats can empower women by providing them with a manageable and sustainable source of income. Owning and managing goats can enhance the economic and social status of women in these communities.

Sustainable Farming Practices

Integrating goats into coffee farming practices promotes sustainable agriculture. The natural behaviors of goats, such as browsing on vegetation, align with ecological principles, contributing to a more balanced and sustainable farming system.


To learn more about the Rwandan coffees from the Muhororo Washing Station, check out our offerings here.

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