Angelique Karekezi has a long history in the coffee industry. Her mother is a coffee producer, and her father was a founding member of a coffee cooperative. In 2003, Angelique became an accountant at a washing station, and in 2004 she was promoted to the position of station manager. Two years later, she got a job at the USAID funded SPREAD program, which focused on improving the lives of Rwandan people through sustainable agribusiness.
In 2008, Angelique became the chief accountant at RWASHOSCCO, a smallholders specialty coffee company that represents the interests of six coffee cooperatives. In 2014, she was promoted to the role of managing director, which she still holds today.
Angelique is an extraordinarily motivated and inspiring entrepreneur who has helped transform the coffee industry in Rwanda, and whose life and community have been transformed in the process. But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s a Q&A we did with Angelique herself…
A: In the morning I send my four children to school, and then come to work. At work, my main duty is to sustain the relationships between RWASHOSCCO and our stakeholders. I communicate with coffee buyers and I spend time monitoring the washing stations that we represent.
In the evening, I have prayers, review my studies, and check my children’s homework to make sure they are doing well. During the weekend, I am at university. Next year I will graduate with a degree in Economics.
Q: What do you like about working in the coffee industry?
A: Oh! The coffee business is my favourite! I like this business because it is one that works directly with farmers. And I am especially glad to work with the smallholder farmers, who the product comes from. To see the improvement of farmers’ lives is my passion.
In the coffee business, I have been connected to many different people and my trips to different places of the world have opened my mind. Not only in my business life, but also my personal.
Q: If you met someone who had never been to Rwanda, how would you describe the place, people and culture?
A: Rwanda is a small country in square metres, but a big country in terms of positive and quick thoughts. If you compare the country before the genocide to the country now, you can’t imagine the difference. Every Rwandan works hard in order to go far.
In Rwanda, we have many things that make us competitive: great security, good governance, and quick development – especially in the coffee sector. We have a strong commitment to improving quality, as well as quantity. We also have a culture of receiving visitors well. We know that to achieve big things, it happens from partnerships with lots of different people.