Category Archives: Rwanda

Shop Umuganda

Even though it was a rainy and chilly morning in Butare, the entire staff of Inzozi Nziza and cooperative members joined together for our monthly tradition of umuganda. Now the shop is not only decorated for Christmas, but also, it’s sparkling clean!

Mediatrice enjoys mopping the floors.

Mediatrice enjoys mopping the floors.

Alphonsine gets the window nice and clean so that the snowflakes look great!

Alphonsine gets the windows nice and clean so that the snowflakes look great!

Even the snowman gets a nice cleaning!

Even the snowman gets a nice cleaning!


It’s always great to see our whole group get together, and after working hard all morning, we joined together for a delicious meal!


Congratulations Valentine!

We would like to congratulate one of our wonderful employees on getting married. Valentine has been working at the shop for one year and married her fiance, Albert, last weekend. The wedding was very beautiful and composed of three parts. The first, was the dowry ceremony, or traditional wedding. This was held in the backyard of Valentine’s house. There were many speeches, traditional Rwandan dance by both male and female dancers, and drumming.

Valentine looked beautiful in her gold dress!

Valentine looked beautiful in her gold dress!

Louise and Alphonsine, two shop employees, took part in the traditional ceremony.

Louise and Alphonsine, two shop employees, took part in the traditional ceremony.

The second part was a catholic mass located at the church very close to Valentine’s house. For this, Valentine changed into a white wedding dress. Her sister, pictured here in a beautiful blue dress, was her maid of honor and was constantly fixing her dress to keep it looking perfect.


The wedding party walking over to the church to continue the ceremony.

Valentine and her new husband Albert during the catholic mass.

Valentine and her new husband Albert during the catholic mass.

Finally, the third part of the ceremony is the reception. Here there was soda, banana beer, and an impressive cake display. The newlyweds cut the cake, and we all enjoyed watching more dancing and drumming. Valentine and Albert even joined in with the dancing; they were great! This is also the part of the wedding where guests present gifts to the new couple.


At the reception, the new couple cuts their wedding cake.

Eugenie and Louise join me for the reception. They look great and are happy to be able to celebrate with Valentine and Albert!

Eugenie and Louise join me for the reception. They look great and are happy to be able to celebrate with Valentine and Albert!

As we left the wedding and said goodnight, the sky looked gorgeous.

As we left the wedding and said goodnight, the sky looked gorgeous.


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Spotlight: Two Inzozi Nziza Women at University!

Here at Inzozi Nziza, we consider ourselves a family.  One of the goals of the project is to see the members of this family succeed in as many arenas of life as possible; the big-picture of Inzozi Nziza includes the long-lasting effects of involving women in economic development.  By connecting women with opportunities for income-generation, professional development, and education, we hope to contribute to the overall push for forward momentum here in Rwanda.

We are so very proud, therefore, to congratulate two of our staff members who have recently begun their University education here in Rwanda!  Marie Rose and Leatitia, two of our very own, have almost completed their first semesters at school.  Both young women are studying science, an impressive feat.

We're so proud of Rose!

Studying at a beautiful university in the Eastern Province, Marie Rose plans to specialize in veterinarian science.  “I like animals,” she says, “All types of animals – cows, goats, dogs, cats.   And I want to be able to help them.”  Veterinary science is a very useful skill in Rwanda, especially in terms of agriculture; cows, goats, and sheep all represent important aspects of Rwanda’s agronomy, and their health is a significant piece of the puzzle.  We’re very proud of Rose’s ambition, and excited to support her through her journey!

Leatita hard at work

Leatitia is a student at the National University of Rwanda, just down the road from Inzozi Nziza!  She is studying biology, and is considering a future in medicine.  We’re very lucky to have Leatitia so close; she has been working part-time while studying, so we still get to see her around the business from time to time!

Both students are about to enter their final exams for their first semester, and we wish them the best of luck!


***Kinyarwanda Corner***

University – kaminuza (“ka-mee-noo-zah”)

To study – kwiga (“kwee-gah”)

To read – gusoma (“goo-soh-mah”)

Student – umunyeshyuri (“ooh-m00-nyeh-shyoo-ree”)

Professor – umwarimu (“oo-mwah-ree-moo”)

A Mouthwatering Opportunity!

This month, our very own Chantal Kabatesi attended an incredible training with Rwanda’s Work Development Authority (WDA).  Right here in Butare, the WDA hosted a Southern Province Hospitality Training in several sectors, including Culinary Skills.

Fatina Mukarubibi, the Deputy Director of the WDA

The Culinary Skills training – which Chantal was selected to attend – is very thorough, lasting one month and with 7 hours of training every day.  Chantal has worked tirelessly, both attending this full-time training and returning to the shop to assist her fellow staff in the evening.  She will finish the program this week!

During the training, Chantal studied advanced kitchen techniques, tools, and food classifications.  She also learned new aspects of food presentation and design, as well as the professional ethics of a chef.  One of the best parts? The uniform!  Very classy, all the way down to the classically tall chef’s hat.

Chantal in her chef's uniform!

If you were to leaf through her binder from the training, you’d find page after page of painstaking notes and handouts, ranging anywhere from different types of breakfasts and ways to serve them, all the way through soup and sauce classifications and a variety of vegetarian dishes.  She also explored many preparation methods, including boiling vs. simmering, poaching, blanching, steaming, and braising.  In addition, Chantal received focused training in hospitality, professionalism, creativity, and productivity as related to the culinary arts.

On her written midterm, Chantal received superior marks.  Last week, Chantal took her practical final exam.  The assigned task? Prepare the following gourmet menu within the time limit:


Nicoise Salad dressed with spiced mayonnaise


Beef consommé


Marriage of chicken served with orange reduction, accompanied with chateau potatoes and seasonal vegetables


Double chocolate cake filled with chocolate and finished with chocolate ganache

It looks absolutely mouthwatering, doesn’t it?

Inzozi Nziza is extremely proud of Chantal’s hard work, and we can’t wait to see how we can use her new talents here in the shop!  We are looking forward to arranging a “debrief” in which Chantal helps to train all of our staff in selected skills that apply particularly well to the special focuses of our shop.

Looking at the larger picture, as an organization we are so pleased that we are continuing to expand our collective skill set, and that we are creating opportunities for our women to diversify, expand their horizons, and increase their confidence and sense of empowerment through local Rwandan efforts.


**Kinyarwanda Corner**

Training – amahurwa (“ahmah-hurrgwa”)

Cake – keke (“cake-y”)

Employee – umukozi (“oomoo-cozey”); literally means “one who works”

Exam – ikizami (“eecheezamee”)

To Cook – guteka (“gootayka”)

UP NEXT: Learn how Inzozi Nziza has decided to put Chantal’s training to use!  Our baked goods cabinet is about to get a major boost…

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May We Offer You a Cup of Tea?

A fresh cup of steaming tea sipped in cool dawn air can be a beautiful start to newly-begun day. Countries all throughout the world have long-standing tea traditions and cultures, sometimes spanning centuries.  Rwanda is no exception.

The art of tea is well-alive in Rwandan culture, woven into the tapestry of social custom and hospitality practices.  It is a traditional beverage of welcome, warmth, and a sign of generosity of spirit.  When a guest arrives at a Rwandan home, it is expected that the host never greet them with empty hands.  Fruit, such as delightful baby bananas, a porridge made from sorghum called “igikoma,” and other small delicacies are commonly served – and a foundational aspect of this hosting practice is the serving of traditional Rwandan tea.

Traditional Rwandan Tea

At Inzozi Nziza, we proudly participate in this tea culture – one of our most popular products is our African Tea!  Loved by both the local community and weary travelers in search of refreshment, our tea is a creamy treat that represents a traditional Rwandan respite.  Read on to learn about how the traditional tea is made here at the shop!

First, water is boiled with several leaves of black tea, grown locally here in Rwanda and Fair Trade Certified.

While the water is heating up, fresh milk from Nyanza (the milk capital of Rwanda) is also boiled.  This is the creamy base that makes our tea so luxuriously rich!  The tea is poured into a silver pot, and the milk is slowly whipped in to create a smooth mixture.

Seraphine pours hot water for the tea

This milk represents one of the cornerstones of Inzozi Nziza as a business – our active support of the economic development of one of Rwanda’s foundational economies, dairy production.  Along with our all-local ice cream, we like to use this rich, natural product of Rwanda in our teas, coffees, milkshakes, and many other products.  We are very proud that our creative use of this milk benefits many different local players in the dairy production market.

Finally, to complete the tea, we add the final “secret” ingredient that makes African Tea so uniquely delicious: a sprinkle of ginger!  This lends the beverage a subtly spiced aspect that is not dissimilar to the chai latte that is so popular in the United States.

The "secret" ingredient? Ginger!

The finished result?  A smooth, creamy treat that is both refreshing, satisfying, and unforgettably unique.
In the area?  Come on by Inzozi Nziza to enjoy a sip of traditional Rwandan tea culture!  It’s our pleasure to host you.

A smooth finish to a delicious drink.

**Kinyarwanda Corner**

At the end of each blog post, look for new Kinyarwanda vocabulary related to the topic of the blog!  Stay with us, and soon you’ll be able to get around Butare and order anything in the shop in the local language.  This will definitely impress the locals!

Tea – Icyayi (pronounced almost exactly like “chai”)

Milk – Amata (“ahmahta”)

Water – Amazi (“Ahmahzee”)

Guest/Visitor – umushyitsi (“oomoosheetsee”)

I would like to order tea – Ndashaka kugura icyayi (“Dahshahka koogoorah chai”)

UP NEXT: A member of our staff participates in a gourmet cuisine training and brings some tasty new ideas to Inzozi Nziza!  Check back soon to read more.

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A Beautiful Rwandan Wedding!

On the first of October, Inzozi Nziza celebrated a very special occasion! Julienne, one of our stellar employees, was married to her fiancé, Emmanuel Bizumuremyi. Inzozi Nziza’s staff attended the wedding, and several staff members participated as members of the bridal party. Chantal, one of our Assistant Managers, was a one of the “abaramukanya” – the Rwandan equivalent of bridesmaids. Leatitia and Rose assisted in the distribution of wedding drinks and cakes. Our very own manager, Marie Louise, was the fille d’honneur (translated from French to mean “honored girl”), which is the close equivalent to the Maid of Honor.

In traditional Rwandan weddings, there are several main ceremonies. In our post below describing Claire’s engagement, you can learn all about the various aspects that compose a traditional Rwandan engagement ceremony.  Here, we continue with details of the ceremonies that follow!

First, there is the Introduction and the Giving of the Dowry.  In this ceremony, the family of the groom and the family of the bride gather at the house of the bride.  The family of the groom must ask for the bride, and a series of back-and-forth dialogue ensues between the two families until an agreement is reached, in a fashion very similar to the engagement ceremony.  After this, the dowry is given.  Traditionally in Rwanda, the dowry may include cows.  In Rwandan culture, cows are symbolic of wealth and stability – they are considered one of the highest gifts to bestow.  At Julienne’s wedding, the family of the groom presented several items, including hoes, scythes, and jerry cans, and followed with the presentation of a very large, beautiful black cow.  Once the dowry had been presented, it was time for the arrival of the bride.

The Giving of the Dowry

Julienne and her bridal party, dressed in stunning mushanana (traditional Rwandan finery for women, often made from floaty, gauze-like material), entered into the ceremony. Julienne and Emmanuel exchanged gifts between the two families, and the bride and groom took turns offering one another sips of juice. The guests then shared fanta and sipped urwagwa (traditional Rwandan banana beer) from gourd calabashes.

From left, Emmanuel, Julienne, and Marie Louise

After this ceremony follows the religious portion of the wedding.  This general takes place in a local church.  Here, the bride dresses in a western wedding dress complete with veil, and the bride and groom exchange vows before a figure of the church.  Julienne was absolutely stunning in her gown!  After exchanging their vows and removing Julienne’s veil, she and Emmanuel fed one another wedding cake (baked by Celestin, a good friend to Inzozi Nziza), and had a party of women and men perform traditional Rwandan dances for them.

Julienne in her beautiful wedding dress!

Finally, after the religious ceremony comes the final portion of the wedding, the reception.  Here the guests are given fanta and wedding cake, and gifts are presented one at a time to the bride and groom.  Inzozi Nziza brought Julienne and Emmanuel 50 kilos of rice and 5 liters of oil, which we proudly presented together as a staff.

Julienne’s wedding was an absolutely beautiful event, from beginning to end, and one that Inzozi Nziza was proud to attend and participate in!

Building Inzozi Nziza’s Team

As a way of building Inzozi Nziza’s team this week at our weekly staff meeting, we tried something new. All of the women at Inzozi Nziza depend on each other. They work together on all sorts of different projects and daily activities. In order to develop this trust, this week we introduced them to trust falls.

Danae, our new Peace Corps Volunteer, explains how to perform the trust fall.

For a trust fall, all of the women stood in a circle while one stood in the middle. The person in the middle would then cross her arms, close her eyes and spin around before falling towards the outer circle where she is caught by her co-workers.

Rose leans back and allows the group to catch her.

Besides bonding and enjoying themselves, the activity has larger implications for Inzozi Nziza. Louise our manager relates this to the work place. “When one woman in the workplace has a problem, she needs to tell the others. We have to trust each other to resolve issues so that we can catch each other when we start to fall.” At each week’s staff meeting we hope to continue building out team with different activities and exercises. Looking at the bigger picture, we hope to introduce many larger team building exercises to the entire team of women in the Cooperative in their upcoming monthly meetings in order to continue to strengthen the relationships that are essential to Inzozi Nziza’s success.

Language Class

Between serving ice cream, baking banana bread, and squeezing fresh fruit juice each day, all of the employees of Inzozi Nziza sit down for language class to practice and improve their English twice a week. Each of the women looks forward to the lessons, and they study throughout the week so that they are prepared for each class.

Students gather for their bi-weekly language class.

You may be asking yourself, why is learning English so important to these women? What good is English in Butare? But these concerns do not stop these women from being enthusiastic about their studies. The women of Inzozi Nziza recognize that only Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda and that learning English is a way to expand their world. They have a great desire to talk to foreigners who pass through their city. All of the women who work at the shop are already used to performing normal customer interactions in English, but they would like to be able to do more. Some of them also have different desires for learning new languages. Chantal wants to understand music lyrics in English, and some of the women would like to be able to read and understand scripture in English. These different motivations have made all of the women passionate and enthusiastic students.

Students play “Simon Says” to practice imperatives and new vocabulary.

Language class often has a variety of different elements. The more structured parts of lessons include review and teaching vocabulary and grammar, but the biggest focus of each class is probably conversation. Besides direct questions and answers, the women also like to play games that encourage them to speak in English. Each class we also spend time answering questions the women bring to class. Outside of class the women get the chance to practice English everyday with different customers or visitors around Butare.

Seraphine names and points to Chantal’s body parts to teach new vocabulary to the other students

Besides learning English, the women also like sharing Kinyarwanda, the language spoken throughout Rwanda, with visitors coming through. Here are some useful phrases to know:

Mwaramutse – Good Morning
Mwiriwe- Good Afternoon
Amakuru? – What’s the news? (How are you?)
Ni Meza- Good (I’m fine)
Yego- Yes
Oya- No
Murakoze (cyane)- Thank you (very much)

The 4th of July in Butare

While Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th with backyard barbeques and fireworks, Rwandans also have something to celebrate. The forth of July here marks Rwanda’s Liberation Day when the Rwandan Patriotic Front entered Kigali to end the 1994 genocide. One way in which liberation day is celebrated here is through local performances. In Butare, two of the women from the shop were involved in one performance at a community center down the road from the ice cream shop.

A university dance group performs.

Drumming has always been an important part of Inzozi Nziza’s foundation, and Marie Louise and Leatita have been able to continue this tradition by getting involved with a new drumming group for university students. They practice twice a week, and are still working on coming up with a name.

Drummers from the university group at rehearsal before the performance.

This weekend all of their practice and hard work was rewarded with the opportunity to perform at this local Liberation Day celebration. The performance also highlighted other performing artist groups such as a dance group and acting group both from the university. There were also notable speakers such as the vice mayor of Butare. Here are some pictures from the event:

Drummers pose at the end of their piece.

Actors depict a play about colonialism and independence. They question how true their initial independence really was considered the divided country that was left behind.

Drummers after the performance. Marie Louise on the right.

Here at the shop we also celebrated the 4th of July. In Rwanda, all shops are closed for the holiday for the first half of the day, but after we opened, Inzozi Nziza was busy all afternoon! Lots of people were traveling through Butare after traveling for the long weekend made their way towards the university to enjoy an ice cream! To celebrate the 4th we introduced new sprinkle cookies, or sugar cookies covered in sprinkes, and they were a big hit. Inzozi Nziza has been working on improving and expanding our baked goods and this new recipe seems like a keeper.

Seraphine and Julienne show off the new sprinkle cookies fresh from the oven.

From the Farm to Our Cups

After seeing the farmers’ process up to providing us with our beans, the next step to a fresh cup of coffee is what we do here at the shop. When we receive green beans, some are coated in an outer shell called parchment. This is all carefully peeled off, and the beans are sorted. Looking at the green beans, we have to make sure there is no damage and all the beans are of the same quality.

Shelled and sorted green beans- ready to roast!

When we have a good sample of beans, we begin roasting. During roasting, there are two main processes: one of which is endothermic and the other exothermic. As the green beans begin to heat up, they are taking in heat. This is the endothermic part of the reaction. We can watch as the beans slowly turn from green to a dark brown. As the beans begin to change, they do not yet smell like coffee but instead, like popcorn! As they take in more and more heat, the beans even begin to pop (or crack) just as popcorn does. This is when the exothermic part of the process begins. After the roasting process is done, we remove the beans from the roaster and allow them to cool.

Leocadie smells our freshly roasted coffee!

These beans are then ready to use at the shop. The rest of the process only begins after a customer orders a cup of coffee. Then we ground the beans and put them in our pour over coffee filter. We slowly add boiled water, which drips through to the cups.

Julienne adds hot water to the filter and waits for the coffee to drip through.

Soon we would like to offer a coffee tourism experience where visitors can go from the farms right around the Butare area and see how the coffee is farmed and processed and then come to our shop to shell and roast their very own batch. They will personally be able to experience the local production of coffee.

Recently we have also been experimenting with new coffee drinks we can offer here at the shop. We want to take advantage of Rwanda’s rich milk, sweet honey, and of course the delicious ice cream we make at the shop. The first drink we have developed is a Mocha Iced Coffee, a delicious blend of coffee, milk and chocolate. We are hoping Rwandan university students down the road at NUR will enjoy coffee drinks as much as the average American student does.

Our new mocha iced coffee!