The U.S. African Development Foundation is dedicated to supporting smallholder farmers in Africa with targeted investments in cooperative organizations. Through principles of open membership, democratic participation, member education and solidarity, cooperatives remain a robust tool for effective economic development across Rwanda. COOPTHE Mulindi, a registered tea growers’ cooperative and USADF grantee since 2008, lost over half its tea plantation during the Rwandan genocide. Members of the cooperative lost all their crops and savings, and had to begin anew. Thanks to a partnership with USADF, COOPTHE is succeeding in rebuilding infrastructure, rehabilitating crops, and improving its organizational capacity and financial systems.
With seed capital, capacity building support and technical assistance from the USADF Technical Partner, African Development Consultants (ADC), COOPTHE reestablished its tea plantation, improved drainage canals and tea nurseries, and installed an irrigation system to boost year-round production. With qualified senior staff, COOPTHE strengthened its financial accountability and management, allowing the cooperative to recoup savings and reinvest in the surrounding community. COOPTHE’s success not only improved livelihoods of its 1,000 full-time members through increased salaries and subsidized health insurance, but also for the surrounding community. The cooperative helped to start Mulindi primary school, support a neighboring nursery school with subsidized teacher salaries of $64/month, and formed a village-level Credit and Savings Association for members to invest their savings where approximately $2,857 is saved by members monthly.
By partnering with USADF, COOPTHE Mulindi has the tools in hand to be a truly transformative business for thousands of smallholder farmers supplying tea. USADF believes in enhancing the power and capacity of post-conflict communities to take charge of their own development, through agriculture, trade and investment.
Twenty-two years ago this April we mark the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, where nearly a million people were killed in 100 days in 1994. The U.S. African Development Foundation has remained steadfast to helping Rwanda’s men and women, from vulnerable women to smallholder farmers, from entrepreneurs to small business owners, to rebuild their country. USADF supports vulnerable populations as they advance from the sidelines of poverty, with USADF assistance, to become players in the economic growth and progress in post-genocide Rwanda. For more information, visit our Remembering Rwanda series.