KULA PROJECT EMPOWERS COFFEE FARMERS
TO INVEST IN THE FUTURES OF THEIR FAMILIES.
LETTER FROM OUR FOUNDER:
Dear Kula Family,
Every year, our team sets a mantra, and in 2017, it was “Slowing is Growing.” We went back and forth on making that decision, but as the year came to an end, we knew it was the wisest thing we could’ve done. There is a natural pressure to always be getting bigger and bigger, but we felt that if we slowed down, put a focus on impact measurement and building strong systems in Rwanda and in the United States, we could position ourselves to do the best work possible. We were right.
Our team expanded, and so did our Board of Directors. We refined our model and set big goals for the future. We went through our first coffee season at the coffee washing station. We officially opened a women’s center that trained its first class of women in weaving and tailoring, and by the end of the year, we were able to buy products from them. And we laid the foundation for a deeper, more holistic strategy to impact the families we believe in so much. Now, we are in the earliest days in of our strategic three-year plan, and we can’t wait to share it with you soon.
I’m immensely proud of how our team balanced growing slowly with growing wisely. It was truly a beautiful year, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited or more sure of the work we are doing.
We have a mighty team and an even mightier support system. Thank you for being a part of this incredible story. Thank you for believing in our work and the people who are doing it. You are shaping generations.
With love and gratitude,
YEAR IN REVIEW: BEHIND THE SCENES EDITION
WHENEVER I AM ASKED FOR THE ROLE
MODEL THAT INSPIRES ME, THE ONLY
HONEST ANSWER I CAN GIVE IS THE
PEOPLE OF RWANDA, WHO HAVE
SUFFERED SO MUCH, YET REFUSED
TO BE HELPLESS AND DEFEATED.
- PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME
THIS PAST YEAR WE...
OPERATED THE FIRST COFFEE SEASON AT AKAGERA COFFEE WASHING STATION
After finishing the construction of Akagera Coffee Washing Station in 2016, we operated through our first coffee season in 2017.
Between the engineers, managers, accountants, sorters, washers, packers, and cleaners, this washing station provided a variety of new employment opportunities that weren't previously available to this community, employing almost 200 people. This washing station also provided access for families to bring their coffee cherries directly to the processor instead of selling their harvest to a middleman for much less than its worth.
This first season was and continues to be a learning process, but we are proud to announce that all of our coffee was sold to Rwandan Trading Company, and eventually bought by Peet's Coffee. We are looking forward to this next season with more experience and expectancy.
CELEBRATED OUR 5TH BIRTHDAY
On May 12 of this year, we celebrated our 5th birthday! We took time to say thank you to those of you whose belief in us throughout our five years has shaped individuals, communities, and generations.
We celebrated planting 100,000 coffee trees and 8,000 banana trees. We celebrated creating over 800 jobs with over 600 families in 14 different regions. We celebrated giving clean water to a coffee community of 435 families and providing more than 2,000 hours of training in subjects ranging from agronomy to business development. We celebrated building 2 women's vocational centers and 1 coffee washing station.
We celebrated the past 5 years while looking forward to the next 5. Thank you for being a part of that story.
BUILT THE LIDDY WOMEN'S CENTER
The Liddy Women's Vocational Center is a women’s vocational training center in the Eastern Province. The women of this coffee cooperative presented us with a business plan for a vocational center on the property of Akagera Coffee Washing Station that would allow the women in the community to receive training and education that would empower them to create their own sewing and weaving businesses.
We built the center in early 2017 and its first year, employed and educated over 70 women from the community in addition to hiring 3 full-time Rwandan staff that manage the center and provide training for the women. The women participated in business training followed by specific skill training empowering them to create beautiful handmade products to sell on the local market. Now, these women engage in income-generating activities outside of the 3-4 months of the coffee season, providing for themselves and their families for the whole year.
HIRED NIC LAUTEN, OUR DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS
We hired Nic Lauten as our Director of Programs. Nic is now living in Rwanda and leading the charge in building systems that tie all of our programs together, establishing partnerships that will greatly improve our work, and pouring into our growing Rwandan team as they continue to become leaders.
Nic has a fierce commitment to the deep and long-lasting investment in the people we work with, he leads our Rwandan team with humility and excellence, and he challenges Kula as a whole to do the best work possible in the best possible way.
We are so grateful for his addition to our team.