All photos are credited to the Kula Project.
My name is Patience Murungi, and I am the leader of Kula’s mentorship program in Rwanda’s Northern Province. The Kula Fellowship is 15-month program where women receive industry training, learn life and leadership skills, and have the opportunity for business investment. The majority of our fellows are coffee growers or artisans. As a Kula mentor, I operate from the field, providing life skills training, support, and guidance to our fellows.
One of my fellows is a woman named Florida. She is an entrepreneur learning how to build her business and take better care of her coffee trees. The skills she’s learning are helping her increase productivity and improve the quality of her coffee.
Florida is a single mother who is providing for herself and her six children through her business. For her, a thriving coffee business means she can fulfill her dream of sending her children to school. She hopes to eventually watch each one of them graduate from college. Investing in women like Florida is important because when you empower a woman, you empower an entire country.
The Impact of Empowerment
Rwanda is an unfolding female empowerment success story. 61% of the Rwandan Parliament is female, making it the highest ranked country for representation of women in the world. Young girls are able to receive an education and fill roles dominated by men, like science and technology.
I believe that empowering women is the key to economic and social transformation and stability. Rwanda is proof of that.
Even though Rwanda leads Africa in every development statistic, there is still a lot of work ahead. We, at Kula, believe it is not charity that will continue to build our country, but our businesses. It will be thanks to the women and men who start coffee businesses, weaving and tailoring cooperatives, open their own stores, and start taxi services.
I have the honor of strengthening that impact through mentorship. That’s what makes Kula’s work different. We focus on relationships, loving and caring for every single one of our fellows through one-on-one mentorship. Kula develops entrepreneurs, empowering women like Florida to invest in the next generation.
Leading with Community
Kula was founded on community-led development, listening to the people and communities we work to uplift. We’ve built on that foundation through the launch of Kula Coffee. The majority of our fellows are coffee growers, and we kept hearing about the need for direct access to the international market. Late last year, we were finally able to make that happen and sell our fellows’ coffee for the first time. The women are so excited to finally see the coffee from their farm in a Kula Coffee bag.
Eradicating poverty seems like an unattainable goal. But through the development of female entrepreneurs, we are all committed to the work at hand.