In 2009, 85 women coffee farmers started the Gashonga cooperative to pool their resources and become stronger as a group. The cooperative struggled in its early months, as it suffered from poor management and was unable to find market access. However, the cooperative was able to begin finding success, thanks in part to participating in trainings from Sustainable Harvest-Rwanda teaching farmers about best agricultural practices to improve quality and volume. The trainings also stressed to the farmers the importance of working together as a team to improve the cooperative’s collective future.
Now in present day, the cooperative has become Fair Trade certified, has grown to 100 members, and has managed to increase its income from coffee. With these increased profits, Gashonga has invested in initiatives such as education for its members and agronomical measures to strengthen its coffee plants. They have also been able to acquire animals such as cows and goats, with which they have been able to make their own organic leaf mulch and fertilizer. Additionally, Gashonga’s members have been able to acquire health insurance, improving their security and safety.