Coffee is an important crop for Rwanda – it represents 35% of export revenues, and 20% of the Rwandan population depend on coffee industry for their income. Specialty coffee, which enjoys a higher premium than ordinary coffee is seen as a pillar to economic growth of Rwanda. While over 184 coffee washing stations have been built to produce specialty coffee, a majority of these operate at less than 50% capacity. Due to lack of quality control, high industry cost structure, and lack of access to funding, Nearly 40% of these stations remain unprofitable.
KZ Noir currently provides agronomy training to improve farmers’ yield and quality. This helps farmers earn more per tree and also ensures a consistent supply of for the company.
KZ Noir exports fully and semi washed green coffee and has two roasted coffee brands. It sources its coffee from over 10,000 smallholder coffee farmers in Rwanda and markets its coffee across the globe, selling to blue chip buyers such as Starbucks, Sustainable Harvest, Mercanta, Stumptown and Taylor of Harrogate.
The company is also building farmer loyalty by integrating into the community – providing books and English training for teachers and students as well as securing access to micro-loans for farmers.
KZ Noir currently provides a market for 15,000 small holder farmers. With Acumen’s $1.2 million investment, it will scale this up to about 25,000 farmers. Once full traceability is implemented, KZ Noir’s small holder farmers will be able to enjoy a premium based on the quality of a specific group’s coffee and KZ Noir will be able to guarantee specialty buyers that the premium designated for a specific producer group will get to the group.