On February 18th-19th, our friends and partners at Sustainable Harvest are holding their first-ever Let's Talk Coffee event in Rwanda. This event will effectively kick off a new three year project in that country, developed in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Women for Women International (WfWI). This project, part of the Bloomberg Women's Initiative, is seen by Sustainable Harvest as an extension of the Portland-based coffee importer's relationship coffee model. Together these three organizations will be working to train women on mushroom and honey production in addition to coffee, with the goal of improving food security and financial independence for women in Rwanda.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is the non-profit arm of billionaire Michael Bloomberg‘s broad cultural and social footprint, and part of a larger plan for Mr. Bloomberg to give away his entire fortune by the time he dies. Bloomberg is famous for the information and metric-heavy approach that he brought to founding the Bloomberg financial news network, and later, to his three-term service as the mayor of New York City. Bloomberg Philanthropies is his application of this experience to the NGO world.
“Let's Talk Coffee” is Sustainble Harvest's long-running series of events centered around the idea of bringing parties from every step of the supply chain together. Along with folks like Oliver Strand and the Stanford d.school , Sprudge has hosted panels and presented at LTC global events in locales like El Salvador and Colombia. Let's Talk Coffee is also held in a more focused, regional format at smaller events around the world.
The event on February 18th in Rwanda is one such event, and will be held at WFWI’s Women’s Opportunity Center in the Kayonza District. Invited guests include hundreds of female farmers, NGOs, coffee roasters and retailers, as well as senior government officials and advocates.
WFWI has worked with Bloomberg Philanthropies since 2008. According to their website, “Women for Women International works with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities.” Women who enroll in our one-year program learn job skills and receive business training so they can earn a living.”
One of the keynote speakers of the event will be Grace Hightower De Niro, wife of actor Robert De Niro, whose company Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda works to promote Rwandan Coffee. You can read more about Sustainable Harvest's Rwanda project here.
All photos by Clay Enos for Sustainable Harvest.