Who we are

Our history

Kahawatu Foundation is a leading NGO dedicated to improving the livelihoods of coffee communities in East Africa. Initiated in 2013, Kahawatu (‘people’s coffee’ in Swahili) focused on helping smallholder coffee farmers to increase productivity and optimize their income, while working towards economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
Today, 10 years later, Kahawatu Foundation is a trusted voice in coffee communities. We have a network of 100,000 coffee farmers in Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda, and have helped establish 50 women’s associations.
Over time we have learned that coffee alone isn’t enough. We have gradually expanded our scope beyond coffee agronomy by also educating coffee communities on the importance of the economic empowerment of women and youth and diversifying sources of income.

A world where coffee communities
are confident and thriving.

To empower coffee communities
to challenge limiting beliefs.

To bring voices from coffee communities
to the world.

Our values


Through compassion, we learn from farmers every day. We don’t pretend to have all the answers.


We’re accountable to each other and our donors. We understand our role as ambassadors in the field.


We apply a business mindset. Creativity and problem-solving are what drives us.


Every farmer and household is different. We constantly apply what we’ve learnt in new situations.


We work at the intersection of business and development, using this perspective to empower communities.

Meet our team

We are Kahawatu Foundation. Coffee lovers, specialists, agronomists, gender experts, activists, and organizers alike. We imagine, we make, we gather, we co-create. We are a group of dedicated individuals trying to make a difference.

Meet our board

An independent board oversees the work of Kahawatu Foundation. They ensure that all donated funds are protected and used efficiently.


Still have questions?

Find the answers to our most commonly asked questions below.
If you need more information or assistance, please feel free to contact us >>

What’s your theory of change?

A theory of change shows how and why an intervention causes change in a certain context. It maps how our project activities lead to our desired impacts. View diagram to see how Kahawatu Foundation’s activities lead to the impact to which we aspire in our mission statement.

Why do you focus on women’s associations?

In rural communities in some East African countries, women have difficulties accessing land and credit. By forming associations, women become more empowered and can access collective or individual funding more easily. Read more about an example project in Burundi and what this type of association brought to a large group of women.

What are VSLAs and why are they important?

In the absence of Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), it can be difficult for coffee farmers to access the finance they need to manage the day- to-day running of their farm and household. Sometimes, coffee farmers have to sell their immature coffee at a low price, generally resulting in a loss. 

Establishing VSLAs – along with the introduction of non-coffee activities, such as bee farming, poultry rearing, and other small livestock farming – means farmers become better placed to support their families without selling their immature coffee. Read more about this here.

What are IGAs and why are they important?
Income-generating activities (IGAs), such as soap manufacturing and poultry rearing, provide additional ways for farmers to earn money. Supporting the development of IGAs is one key way to support coffee communities. When developed as part of a wider package of interventions they can help to boost farmer resilience, empower women, and increase child protection. Kahawatu Foundation supports coffee farming households to set up IGAs through community development and as part of responsible supply chain management. Find out more in this case study.
What’s your approach to designing projects?

Our design approach is based on human-centered design. It enables us to put the coffee communities at the center of our work, making sure that their needs are central to the project scope and approach. As we demonstrate in our Theory of Change, we always conduct a community needs assessment before kickstarting the design process. The communities remain part of the design process as well. View diagram to see a visual explanation of the above.

How do you monitor progress and track impact?

Each country team has a monitoring and evaluation coordinator. Their role is to establish and implement systems to promote evidence-based decision-making, program and project performance, and internal management. The information and quantitative and qualitative data that is collected by these team members informs the impact we’re creating on the ground and enables us to track and report on developments.

How does Kahawatu Foundation spend the money received?

Kahawatu Foundation has supported over 800,000 coffee community members in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Through projects, we have helped initiated 50 women’s groups, set up 1,538 income-generating activities, established 1,266 Village Savings and Loans Associations, and trained at least 100,000 farmers in GAP.

Kahawatu Foundation has a Financial Controller who monitors the distribution of funds overall and per origin. Regular project updates are provided to evaluate and measure progress.

Do you work globally?

Currently, Kahawatu Foundation is active in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. We are, however, open to expanding our scope.