2005 – The Maraba Cooperative Abahuzamugambi


The Maraba Cooperative Abahuzamugambi in Rwanda has been awarded the City of Göteborg International Environment Prize for its pioneering work to produce coffee with methods that are sustainable from a social, financial and environmental standpoint.


The coffee cooperative Abahuzamugambi in Rwanda is awarded the 2005 City of Göteborg International Environment Prize. By producing high quality coffee with methods that are sustainable from a social, financial and environmental standpoint they have contributed to a fantastic development in a hard hit country. Now it is up to consumers to support them further.

Abahuzamugambi means ”We who work together” and it is their work that is being rewarded with one million Swedish crowns from the City of Göteborg International Environment Prize, a fact Chairman of the Municipal Executive Board, Göran Johansson, was proud and happy to announce.

Exporting to Europe and USA

”It’s hard enough for wealthy countries to care about the environment, how much more difficult for poor countries? In a country like Rwanda, which we generally associate with the terrible genocide that took place there in the 90’s it seems almost impossible,” Göran Johansson said.

”That’s why it feels so right that the jury has chosen to reward a small cooperative in Rwanda that works so successfully with organic coffee production and social welfare,” he continued.

The cooperative was founded in 1999 in the village of Maraba in one of the poorest and most deprived areas in Rwanda and has 2,000 members today, of which more than half are women. The coffee is produced without chemical fertilizers and pesticides and is exported to the USA and several European countries.

No middlemen

In 1999 coffee production turnover was less than 350,000 Swedish crowns; in 2005 the turnover was expected to reach 21 million Swedish crowns. Since there are no middlemen involved all profits go directly to the cooperative and thereby also the actual farmers.

One of the many positive effects in the local community is that 80 percent of the children go to school nowadays, compared to 10 percent before the establishment of the cooperative. Roads have been built, water pipes have been laid and a network of local businesses is emerging as a direct result of the cooperative’s successful work.

Several aspects of sustainability

”Altogether, Abahuzamugambi represents exactly what the City of Göteborg International Environment Prize wants to promote, namely sustainable development. That comprises not just the actual environment but also, in equal measures, financial and social aspects,” says Lars Hallén, one of seven jury members.

Göran Johansson would also like to see the consumers show their appreciation for Abahuzamugambi’s work.

“The biggest help we can give the world’s poor countries is to buy their products and there is no reason why this Fairtrade coffee couldn’t be a success in Sweden. It has a slightly different taste – for the better,” states Göran Johansson.


About the Pearl Project, one of the financers of the cooperative:

About Fairtrade labelling: