Coffee, Tea, Pyrethrum: The Roads to Rwanda

Rwandan coffee

Costco represents one distributor of Rwandan coffee.

Greetings from Washington, DC! As first year MBA candidates at the George Washington University, the last weeks of class mark our first weeks of deep dive into our CAP (Consulting Abroad Program) projects. Our group of five is headed to Kigali, Rwanda to work with an organization devoted to the development of agricultural exports and to develop solutions for expanding export markets for agricultural SMEs in Rwanda. A focus on coffee, tea and pyrethrum helps narrow this broad and complex opportunity and has given us three clear roads to follow.

Thus far, our work has been primarily in research—what the market is currently, the specifics of the processes related to the production and export of each of these products, which countries represent potential emerging export markets, and what lessons can be learned from other countries already distributing these products.

This project has also been a crash course in Murphy’s law as it pertains to international communication (“What can go wrong will go wrong”). Between Skype connection problems and the barrier that is time zones, we’ve been in touch with our client primarily via email and have worked around the limitations that presents us with. We expect to learn at an accelerated pace once in-country and are prepping ourselves as best we can before arrival. Our own George Washington University Gellman Library has been a godsend and the faculty there have given us a thorough catalog of electronic resources, especially for the developing space that is pyrethrum production and export.

For those curious, pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from dried chrysanthemums. Rwanda is currently the second largest producer of pyrethrum in the world and represents 15% of the global market share. (source: National Agricultural Export Development Board)

Our whole team is so excited to be working in this space and to have the opportunity to work so closely with an organization devoted to such an important opportunity. Agricultural export expansion is a real opportunity for growth in the Rwandan economy and can boost efforts toward their Vision 2020 goals.

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