Let’s Talk Coffee® Rwanda 2019 Speakers
VERA ESPÍNDOLA RAFAEL
Since 2016, Vera Espíndola Rafael has worked with the Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food in Mexico (SAGARPA) on the Plan Integral de Atención al Café (Plan for the Care of Coffee). She focuses on fostering sustainable coffee production in this national coffee program, which has the goal of reviving the Mexican coffee sector by increasing productivity in a sustainable manner. Vera also oversees the market strategy of the program. Vera has a Master’s Degree in Development Economics and a Bachelor in International Business; she has previously worked for Anacafé in Guatemala, researching the coffee supply chain and its value-add for coffee producers, as well as for UTZ (which has since merged with Rainforest Alliance) as Regional Manager for Latin America.
Ruth Coleman has held positions in the public and nonprofit sectors for twenty-six years. Currently, Ruth serves as the Executive Director of Sustainable Growers (formerly called the Relationship Coffee Institute), the nonprofit affiliate of Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers. In this capacity, she is responsible for overseeing the organization’s operations and managing strategic relationships. In 2013, Sustainable Growers was selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies to bring its innovative economic Relationship Model of development to low-income rural women based in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ruth manages this multi-year project to improve the livelihoods of over 30,000 low-income women coffee farmers from Rwanda and DRC through training and connecting the farmers to the international market. She is a graduate of Occidental College and has a master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Christine Condo is the East Africa Regional Director for Sustainable Growers, an NGO that improves the livelihoods of smallholder women coffee farmers through training and market access. Christine started her career as a cooperative development manager at ACDI/VOCA working with coffee, tea, and maize cooperatives to produce financial and management manuals for agribusiness cooperatives and the private sector. She then oversaw Fair Trade USA’s East African coffee development projects in Rwanda, and worked as a risk manager and financial trainer for Root Capital. Christine has now built a 15-year career transforming the lives of people in the rural sector through women’s economic development.
Agnès Mukamushinja grew up accompanying her father, an agronomist, on his educational and monitoring visits to neighboring coffee farms. Although she left coffee for a while to pursue a teaching and nursing career, she has since returned to her roots. She is the Managing Director of Nova Coffee, a coffee producer and exporter in Rwanda that engages women farmers in a meaningful way to help lift them out of poverty. She prides herself on managing an ethically and socially responsible coffee enterprise and is an accomplished women’s rights activist.
KENNETH R. OLSON
Kenneth R. Olson is the co-founder and publisher of the worldwide specialty coffee trade journal Barista Magazine. Since 2005, Barista Magazine has been devoted to its mission of serving people serving coffee. Prior to Barista Magazine, Kenneth worked as a writer, editor, and photographer. Outside of the coffee industry, his work has also been featured in numerous publications including Oregon Humanities magazine and the New York Times.
DAGMAWI IYASU EMINETU
Grounds for Health
Dagmawi Iyasu Eminetu is an entrepreneur, public health practitioner, and coffee researcher with over two decades of experience and a passion for domestic consumption and coffee tourism in Ethiopia. He holds two Master degrees in Biotechnology (USA) and Coffee Economics and Science (Italy). He currently works for Grounds for Health (Vermont, USA) as the Program Manager for Africa and YA Coffee Roasters (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) as the the Research and Innovation Advisor. As a coffee researcher, he continues to explore the value and potential of domestic consumption and coffee tourism in Ethiopia and other African countries.
ASIA PRIMUS KIMARYO
Aroma Coffee House
Asia Primus Kimaryo is the founder of Aroma Coffee House located in Moshi Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Aroma Coffee House employs primarily women, including youth and single mothers, offering them an opportunity to grow their skills in the coffee industry. She is a member of TAWOCA, the Tanzania chapter of International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), which helps women coffee farmers vertically integrate into the coffee supply chain and add value to their product. In 2013, she was awarded IWCA’s Lift while You Climb award for her contributions to promoting gender equity in coffee.
Tanzania Coffee Board
A national of Tanzania, Primus has served as the Acting Director for the Tanzania Coffee Board in Moshi since 2015. Prior to his current role, he worked as the Director of Coffee Quality and Promotions at the Tanzania Coffee Board and the Association of Kilimanjaro Specialty Coffee Growers-KILICAFE as Marketing Manager. Primus has also served as the Chairman of the Projects Committee of the International Coffee Organization and AFCA Chairman for the Tanzania Chapter. He has a Master’s Degree in Coffee Economics and Science from the University of Udine, Italy, and an MBA in Marketing from Mzumbe University, Tanzania.
Melanie’s mantra is “Grow, baby, grow!” That’s exactly what she’s done for over 25 years as Torani’s CEO. Torani, the fiercely independent flavor maker and B-Corp, has averaged double-digit, year-over-year growth in that time, flavoring cafés around the world. Melanie’s passion and expertise are in organization development and scaling social impact companies. She’s committed to shaping business to be a force for good, creating opportunity and development for people from all backgrounds. Melanie earned a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford. She feels a strong connection to Rwanda through her involvement in the NGO SHE-CAN as a Board Member and mentor to Rwandan scholars studying in the US.
Saurin has spent the past 14 years formulating systems for farmers to access information, capital and markets. He specializes in designing and implementing sustainability programs for coffee companies (retailers, roasters, importers, exporters and cooperatives). Prior to COSA, Saurin worked with Root Capital (across Latin America and Africa), Grameen Foundation (in Uganda), and managed a cotton cooperative (in India).
Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance (UCFA)
Tony Mugoya is the Executive Director of the Uganda Coffee Farmers Alliance (UCFA), a farmer owned apex body that was established to provide marketing and other support services to coffee farmer organizations in Uganda. Throughout his career, Tony has worked in coffee farming, coffee export trading, warehouse management, commercialization of farmer organizations, business unit management, coffee extension, and as a rural development expert. He currently serves as a Vice Chairperson of the National Steering Committee of the Uganda Coffee Platform, is a member of the Global Coffee Platform (GCP) and representative of the National Coffee Platform in the GCP membership assembly, and is Director for Cafe Africa, which is a leading development organization promoting the sustainability of coffee production in Africa.
Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB)
Dr. Simon Martin Mvuyekure is the Coffee Research Leader in Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). He holds a Master’s Degree in Integrated Agronomy with a specialization in crop improvement and protection from the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and a Ph.D. in plant breeding from the University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa). He has 13 years of experience working in coffee research and has directed various research projects on varietal development, coffee pests, and disease management as well as coffee system agronomy. His current research focuses on projects aimed at establishing a regional coffee breeding hub, climate mainstreaming into the coffee sector in Rwanda, and sustainable improvement of coffee farming for food systems targeting increased farmers’ income through crop diversification.
Rumenera Philippe holds a Master’s Degree in Agriculture Economics, a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, and an Advanced Diploma in Agriculture. He is an agribusiness expert with more than 18 years of experience implementing activities in different areas of agribusiness, including value chain development of different commodities (coffee, tea, potato, maize, beans, rice, banana, soybeans, pineapple, tomatoes), market strategy development & market linkages, training of trainers for farmers using participatory training methods, coaching and mentorship, agriculture finance business plan development, feasibility studies, and baseline survey. Furthermore, he has extensive experience working with farmers in cooperative development, strategic plan development, post-harvest handling, and storage technology (in Irish potato, maize, beans, rice, cassava, coffee). He has worked in the public sector in research institutions and private and international non-government institutions in addition to his current role as a agribusiness consultant.