Andrew Rugasira: can coffee transform lives in Africa?

From Global development | The Guardian Sat Feb 16 2013, 19:04:05

In 2003, Andrew Rugasira had a vision of empowering farmers in his native Uganda by enabling them to produce and sell coffee direct to British supermarkets. So has his idea worked?

How can you tell when a story has ended? If it is an African story, such as the one Andrew Rugasira has to tell, closure is never likely to be satisfying or clear cut. Beginnings are more straightforward.

Rugasira's once-upon-a-time moment came nearly a decade ago, when he had a vision to start a coffee company in his native Uganda. He would, he determined, become the first African to collect and roast and market and sell quality coffee direct to British supermarkets. And, by that example, he would demonstrate his certain beliefs: that it was trade, not aid, that transformed communities and that change was never an imposed solution, but a positive choice made by those whose lives would be most affected by it.

The place Rugasira chose to base his coffee company, to start that story, the Rwenzori mountains - the Mountains of the Moon - looked a lot like a blank page. The lives of the 14,000 subsistence farmers who lived high above the town of Kasese, right on the war-torn border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had never been the stuff of written record. Their narratives were of survival rather than progress. Ambition meant getting through the next day and the next week, in thrall as they were to the suddenly shifting front lines of brutal cross-border conflict and the vagaries of farming a little scrap of land without decent tools or any technology, without transport or access to market, barely growing enough to feed themselves and their children, waiting for agents or middlemen to pass through and buy some coffee beans, maybe soon, maybe not, and never for a price that seemed fair.

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse

People and Organizations:

You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Africa:   'Church Is for Love' - Gay Ugandans Send Message to Pope (news)
Al Jazeera
27 November 2015

It is a weekend of anticipation for Uganda's LGBTI community. For them, the doors of the church have long been closed. So when Pope Francis' long-awaited first visit to Africa as leader of the ... [read more]

Uganda:   Uganda - Living in Fear (news)
Al Jazeera
26 November 2015

Many Ugandans have lived through fear over the decades - either because of the actions of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army or from the campaign of an Islamist insurgency known as the ADF. But ... [read more]

Ouganda:   Visite papale en Ouganda - Une attente spirituelle, mais pas seulement (news)
Radio France Internationale
27 November 2015

Après son étape kényane, le pape François prendra la direction de Kampala, en Ouganda. Il s'agit de la troisième visite d'un souverain pontife dans ce pays du nord ... [read more]

blogAfrica is's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!

Today's Featured News
Mozambique Ruling Party Faces Tough Contest

Renamo supporters: Ruling Frelimo faces a stern challenge at Wednesday's polls from...

Surge in Central African Republic Violence

African Union troops in Bangui (file photo): The UN has expressed alarm...

Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana Get Crucial Wins

Asamoah Gyan of Ghana (file photo): The Super Eagles have boosted their...