Story of change

Ituze Women Group

Kahawatu Foundation supports Ituze Women Group, whose members own a coffee plantation, have soap-making and pineapple-selling businesses, and save together through a VSLA.

Ituze Women Group at Ngamba Coffee Washing Station in Rwanda was formed in 2008 after 18 women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS formed an alliance to help support each other. The cooperative now has 21 members, including 3 who are husbands of women in the group. They have 1,900 coffee trees, planted on half a hectare. In 2022, the group harvested 375 kg of coffee cherry and earned US$228.75. They also received 60 grevilia shade trees, which they planted around the coffee plot.
The group started a soap-making business in August 2021 and invested US$480 on products for liquid soap making. They have produced over 2,340 liters of soap – each liter sells for US$0.75, and they have earned US$1,755 in total so far.
The cooperative also grows over 10,000 pineapples on half a hectare rented thanks to the revenue from coffee farming and selling soap. Pineapple sales generate an average income of US$24-40. Kahawatu supported this activity by donating 8MT of composite manure to fertilize the group’s pineapple plot in March 2022.
They formed a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) composed of the 21 members of the Ituze group, and 8 other women from the community. Each member saves US$0.20 weekly and after the first saving cycle, the group had a total of savings worth just over US$1,000, which was distributed to members according to their savings. This allowed members to pay for medical insurance, repair their homes, and buy scholastic materials and livestock, such as goats and hens. The second saving cycle started in September 2022 and so far, they have saved US$77.20 and have an outstanding loan worth US$253.50 at 5% interest with a pay-back policy of 3 months.