New Release | Rwanda Sholi Women’s Lot | 3/8/24

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Women of the Sholi Cooperative

 

12OZ BAGS OZO Coffee CompanyRwanda Sholi Women’s Lot

In celebration of International Women’s Day, OZO was inspired to honor and uplift the contribution of women in coffee by partnering with the Sholi Cooperative in Rwanda to highlight this special release woman’s lot. Coming from the female producers at Sholi, we have continued to highlight the investment of women in this coffee every step of the way. From coffee production, to marketing, to roasting, to distribution, this coffee has been curated from a women-driven team at OZO headquarters. We are further excited to have the opportunity to give 100% of sales of this offering on International Women’s Day, March 8th, back to the women at the Sholi Cooperative in support of their beekeeping program. This is a program they have chosen as a way to diversify their job market, benefiting local agriculture, and creating revenue from honey at local markets.        

Situated in the heart of Rwanda’s Muhanga district, the Abateraninkunga ba Sholi Cooperative, also known as the “Sholi” Cooperative, embodies the ethos of mutual assistance. Established in 2008, Sholi has been a dedicated  producer of coffee for nearly a decade. The cooperative’s nomenclature reflects its core principle of collective effort aiming at enhancing both coffee quality and community welfare.

Notably, Sholi traces its roots to the women’s association “Kundwa,” meaning “love” in Kinyarwanda. Presently, Sholi boasts a membership where women constitute over one-third of its members, with two women serving on the five-member board of directors.  In addition to individual coffee cultivation, the women’s association manages two communal plots dedicated to coffee harvesting and production.

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Beekeeping set up at Sholi Cooperative

Recognizing the healthcare deficit in its vicinity, Sholi undertook a noble initiative in 2016 to establish a community center and a regional health facility, addressing the healthcare needs of both members and residents. Funded by grants and supplemented by individual contributions, the health center now offers essential medical services including a pharmacy, first aid facilities, nursing care, family planning, and treatment for prevalent ailments such as malaria and respiratory infections.

Furthermore, Sholi, in collaboration with the Café Feminino Foundation, initiated a commendable nutrition program targeting women and children in the community. This program, operational for several years, provides fortified porridge to susceptible children aged 2 to 5, accompanied by basic education sessions and monthly parental meetings. Moreover, the construction of a multifunctional community hall underscores Sholi’s commitment to communal development.

In the realm of sustainability, Sholi has secured Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and Organic certifications, signifying its dedication to equitable practices and environmental stewardship. Leveraging Fairtrade resources, the cooperative has ventured into beekeeping and facilitated cow distribution among members. Sholi has continued in their dedicated community outreach through creating a transformative program tailored for young single mothers and investments in solar drying technology to enhance processing efficiency. The cooperative’s ambitious reforestation efforts, coupled with the provision of Bourbon seedlings to members, reflect a steadfast commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Despite grappling with climate change-induced adversities such as flooding and drought, Sholi remains resolute in its mission. Founded in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the cooperative’s legacy of women’s leadership endures. Chairwoman Marthe Mukakarangwa, a founding member, has spoken to Sholi’s equitable profit-sharing framework, emphasizing the empowerment of female members through direct financial allocation and community projects. This year, the allocation will support initiatives in vocational training and craft production, underscoring Sholi’s holistic approach to empowerment and community development.

For this natural processed coffee, Sholi identifies the highest-quality cherries, resorts and floats the cherries before relocating them to drying beds for 3-4 days. The dried cherries are then covered for 24-30 hours for flavor development before continuing the drying process for the next 30-35 days. This coffee boasts the silky flavor of white chocolate and vanilla with bright undertones of strawberry, muddled citrus, and sweet wine.

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