Hello from Rwanda! After many different flights, countries, and continents, our team finally made it to Kigali. We couldn’t be more excited to start working with our client, Aime, and the Gitesi Coffee Washing Station.
On Tuesday morning, Team Gitesi got an early start and headed to the Karongi District to see the coffee washing station. We were lucky to be able to share the ride out to Gitesi with Aime, who joined us in the Jeep for our journey. Meeting our client in person was eye opening. The individual who we had been emailing with for weeks was even more motivated and kind in person. We discussed everything from coffee bean quality to pricing models, and even chatted about the influence the NYSE has on Aime’s bottom line. During the drive Aime shared why he chose to open a coffee washing station: while Aime’s family was from Gitesi, his father moved his immediate family to the Congo to escape growing ethnic tensions in Rwanda. The 1994 genocide resulted in the death of all Aime’s extended family members still living in the region. Since the genocide, Aime’s family has returned to Gitesi and has been determined to revitalize the land through coffee production and providing jobs for members of the local community. The family-owned business is thriving in great part to the hardworking and welcoming demeanor of its owners.
After a tour of the coffee plantation and current facilities, our team became better aware of the numerous challenges Aime is presented with as he sets out to incorporate tourism as part of his business model. Besides pricing and facility upgrades, Aime also needs to build the Gitesi brand. What is Gitesi Coffee Washing Station and why should a tourist come here? Who are the owners and what is their story? These were elements of a successful marketing campaign that needed to be addressed if our team was going to help Aime reach his goal.
With an agenda set for us we thanked Aime and his father and got ready to hit the road back to Kigali. Before heading out, however, we made sure to try some of Aime’s coffee. I think our whole team can attest that Gitesi may have the best coffee in all of Rwanda (yes, the coffee is THAT good). Hopefully we will be able to get a few bags to bring back stateside for everyone at GW to try!