Sustainability Champions from around the World– Looking at ways to curb pollution and waste management. We would like to thank Daniel Hartz, the founder of Sustainability Champions for giving us the permission to share this information.
Started in 2018 by Solange Kwidja Kahriri, a former communications worker who saw an opportunity to help her local communities, Heshima Coffee now sells coffee and coffee-infused soap bars in five Congolese provinces, Burundi and Rwanda. Kahriri saw it as a chance to create a source of extra income for women in an industry that is still essentially male-dominated. It’s also an ingenious way of helping people while ensuring that no part of the beans goes to waste, because the soap is made from used grounds, so that’s also a major plus for the planet too. Currently, around 1,500 women and young people living in rural areas throughout east Congo now live with the hope of a brighter future.
The cooperative makes this possible by handing out free seedlings to its members. When they return with the coffee, Solange puts her communication experience to good work as she negotiates directly with buyers on their behalf to ensure they get the best price possible for their produce. And this means that many of them can put food on the family table with money left over for household goods, and crucially they can provide an education to their children and hope for an even brighter outlook than they have.
Today the cooperative produces over 5,000 soap bars a week that are hand-cut and wrapped. Solange concedes that so much more could be done with extra financial support. Still, for now, making a difference to the planet and the lives of so many must be a heartening outcome.