Let’s Talk Coffee event announced in Rwanda

Sustainable Harvest is planning to boost knowledge and networking among female coffee professionals in Africa with the launch of its first Let’s Talk Coffee event in Rwanda. Among the goals of the initiative is to create economic opportunities in the Rwandan coffee trade for women entering the job market with new skills. Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda will further that effort by convening more than 150 female farmers, roasters, retailers, NGOs, and senior government officials to discuss challenges and strengthen opportunities for smallholder farmers to make connections in the value chain. “Relationships are critical to the future of specialty coffee,” said David Griswold, President and Founder of Sustainable Harvest, in a statement. “We must work collaboratively to address the challenges smallholder women farmers face. Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda offers a unique forum for fostering these conversations.” Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda will introduce female farmers enrolled in Women for Women International’s (WfWI) life-skills training program to all aspects of the value chain, not just in coffee but in mushroom and honey production as well. The two-day program and networking event will be held at WfWI’s Women’s Opportunity Center in Kayonza District, a training and convening space designed to intentionally cultivate networking, education, and economic development. The program has enrolled and trained more than 96,000 women in 4 countries, including more than 30,000 in Rwanda alone. In keeping with this vision, Let’s Talk Coffee will feature both interactive training sessions along with leaders from the United States and Rwanda participating in panel discussions and presentations on ways to overcome barriers to increase the engagement and close the distance between producers, distributors, and retailers. Among the speakers at the event will be Grace Hightower De Niro, who launched the coffee company Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda in 2013 to improve the lives of Rwandan people by promoting their coffee worldwide. She will address the women attendees as a lunchtime keynote speaker and will also take part in a panel on the role of the private sector in raising incomes and improving lives. Let’s Talk Coffee is a key component of Sustainable Harvest’s Relationship Coffee Model. This responsible sourcing initiative increases value through the supply chain by investing in growers and providing training and infrastructure at origin to deliver the highest-quality product to buyers around the world. Sustainable Harvest’s relationship coffee initiative in Rwanda is funded by a three-year grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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