Updated: Jun 5, 2020
While COVID has managed to shut down so much of our coffee work and stopped us creating revenue from coffee sales since March 2020, we are still committed to working with our farmers and to help them through this difficult period. Through the support of Noble Gorilla Foundation in Detroit USA, we are moving ahead and achieving critical milestones.
We were excited to attend our first conference of the year in Dublin Ireland as a participant of Climate Action Now (CAN). We planned to introduce our coffee to the country as well as collaborate and build partnerships with like minded individuals and organisations. However, COVID changed the course of that event and it got cancelled. Even so, we still went there to meet with potential partners and to explore the Irish people's appetite for our coffee.
It was a first visit out of the country for Claudine, our ambassador of coffee and manager of Women in Coffee project. While the people were warm, the weather was the coldest she had experienced, having been in Uganda all her life. For Rugaya, it was his second visit to Ireland, his first was in November 2019 as part of the Ploughman's
We also met officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and others who support Africa-Ireland trade initiatives. We remain hopeful that we may get some support to bring our wonderful coffee to Ireland and its people. Conference event co-ordinator Robert Stephenson (CAN) arranged for us to have a real insight into Irish country living, by hosting us at the beautiful Rossnaree House located in Slane, County Meath, overlooking the Boyne Valley's famous megalithic site, Newgrange. Our daily view of sunrises over the Newgrange Mound was an inspiring way to move into the day's activities.
Other highlights were meeting with the dedicated team of the NGO "Proudly Made in Africa, whose mandate it is to help bring value-added products direct from origin country into Ireland and the EU. They love what we are doing as well as enjoying the coffee, and have extended their offer of assistance to us to become export ready and EU import compliant.
Rugaya was asked to be part of the panel on Africapitalism, hosted by the University of Dublin and supported by Proudly Made in Africa. He engaged with the audience and the panelists eloquently, sharing both the challenges and the opportunities that are part of a visionary's quest while building a sustainable social enterprise with coffee communities.
The visit to BellLane Roaster provided us with a blueprint for how to set up our own micro-roastery in Kisoro, where we plan to build a Centre of Excellence within 2 years. It was compact and housed everything from roasting to a packing line and distribution.
We felt welcomed in Ireland, and know that even though our plans have been disrupted by COVID-19, we will continue to expand our relationship with this lovely country. Thank you, Ireland.
More on our visit: