Esperance Nyirangirimfura born New Years Day 1953 is a coffee producer. She has spent many years teaching primary school at the Ecole Primaire de Gakenke in north central Rwanda, but makes her living as cultivating coffee on the steep hillsides of the Rwandan countryside. Esperance is a member of Abakunda Kawa Cooperative (translation from Kinyarwanda: Coffee Lovers) in the district of Rushashi. She joined the cooperative in 2004 and was a founding member of the Hinga Kawa women’s association. Hinga Kawa is an association of 109 women coffee producers that meet and work together to ameliorate the livelihoods of women coffee producers in their region. Thirty percent of the association’s members are widows and sole head of households’.
Esperance has been raising her 8 children alone for the past 17 years. She has been selling her coffee and receiving Fair Trade premiums since 2006. The fair trade premium has allowed her to construct a new home, purchase 3 dairy cows that produce milk for her children’s consumption as well as producing compost for her coffee plants. She has also been able to invest in her children’s education “all of my children are in school and they study very well,” she exclaimed.
In 2009, Esperance attended the Specialty Coffee Association of America conference, the largest specialty coffee conference in the world. At SCAA, Esperance represented her community for the first time on an international level. Esperance had never traveled outside of Rwanda and this opportunity was eye opening for her. “I participated at SCAA where I met many different people; farmers, buyers, consumers, foundations. I was opened to the coffee world on a whole other level, all of this is due to our great partner TransFair USA.”
Esperance is currently in the midst of the Rwandan coffee harvest and no doubt working hard every single day to not only bring consumers great quality coffee, but to invest cherry by cherry in the livelihood of her community.