For many years after its 1994 founding, Maraba grew commercial-grade coffee, but was not recognized for producing specialty coffee until 2001 when Maraba began partnered with PEARL (Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages) and later SPREAD, projects funded by USAID. With the help of these organizations, the co-operative expanded its infrastructure and technical training from industry experts. They constructed washing stations and cupping labs to improve cup quality.
In 2002, Maraba achieved Fair Trade certification and is proudly the first FT single-origin coffee from Rwanda. Maraba uses the premiums for community development projects such as health care, education, and women’s programs, purchasing depulping machines, and addressing waste water management issues. These premiums also help to offer second payment to members.
In 2003, under the guidance of Project PEARL, the cooperative adopted its own banking branch, serving community members and providing new employment opportunities.