RWANDA: Day 2 & 3 – Clients & Sights
Quick update from Day 1: Remember the snakes? I appeared on Rwanda TV talking about them, which was pretty cool. 😀
Day 2 – RDB and Clients
The second day of our Rwanda trip was all business. First, we paid a visit to the Rwanda Development Board, which helps businesses invest and grow in Rwanda. It is essentially a one-stop shop for investing activities in Rwanda. The Division Manager of the Monetary and Monitoring department spoke with us and we were able to ask a lot of targeted questions.
Then it was time to meet our clients, Ikirezi. Dr. Hitiyama was wonderful to speak with. Open and forward with both his objectives and providing the information that we needed made it a very productive meeting.
We were excited to start working and we did so right away!
Day 3 – Sorwathe Tea & Sina Gerard
The next day we took a trip down tea lane to the Sorwathe Tea Plantation. Camila did a wonderful briefing on our sites.
I LOVE tea, so this trip was especially exciting!
A brief history of Sorwathe:
SORWATHE’s main stakeholder and founder is Tea Importers, Inc, an American company that imports tea from around the world and sells it to major tea packers, blenders, and specialty tea companies.
- The Rwandan government invited the American founder of Tea Importers Inc to build a tea factory in 1972.
- Joe, the founder, in conjunction with the Rwandan government, IMF, and OPIC built the land, factory and infrastructure surrounding it from scratch.
o Drained swamp land to plant tea
o Built roads
o Secured fuel sources
o Water and electricity brought to the factory
- Opened in 1978
- Largest factory in country producing about 15% of Rwanda’s tea
- 256 hectares & over 2,500 Rwandan employed in factory and fields
- 6.5 million pounds of tea produced each year
- Fair Trade, Organic, and Rainforest Alliance certified
- Participant in the Ethical Tea Partnership
- Various Blacks, Greens, and Whites.
- First factory in Rwanda to manufacture “Orthodox” and green tea.
- “Orthodox” tea is tea is rolled in traditional tea rollers using specially seasoned timber tables. It is a bright orange color and considered a specialty tea.
- Also, the first facility to cultivate organic tea
- They have guesthouses for tourists and travelers. (I am hugely sad I didn’t get to spend the night) and tennis courts.
- The food was INCREDIBLE!
- 2012 Award for Corporate Excellence: November 28, 2012, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton award Tea Importers, Inc and SORWATHE with the 2012 Corporate Excellence Award. Only two are given out each year.
o Clinton called SORWATHE an environmental leader, a pioneer on worker’s rights, and a positive force in the local community.
- 2013 Best Green Tea at the 2nd Africa Tea Convention
PS. They made us wear some pretty fabulous outfits!
Our final stop was Sina Gerard. The company’s name is based on the man, Sina Gerard himself. Sina Gerard is probably Rwanda’s most famous businessman and is a self-made millionaire.
He started his own school and pays for the students to attend.
He has his own pigs, etc.
He also has a lot of phones, which he used a lot.
Fun fact: His most famous product is his “Akabanga” chili sauce, which is so strong workers are required to wear a facemask!
He was very interesting to talk with and answered and asking lots of questions. It was great to meet such a successful and innovative Rwandan businessman.
Hope you enjoyed this rather long post! 🙂