Grounds for Change
WESTROCK COFFEE CO. IS MAKING AN UNDENIABLE
DIFFERENCE AROUND THE GLOBE
PRESENTED BY WESTROCK COFFEE CO.
WORDS BY ASHLEY HURST
Westrock Coffee Company is changing the lives of generations of hardworking families across the globe. Founded in 2009 with the revitalization of a single coffee mill in Rwanda, Westrock now supports over 500,000 farmers in 21 countries. Westrock takes a unique approach when collaborating with farmers at each origin. While each partnership is different in nature and scale, they are all the same at heart. From assisting farming communities with tools and hands-on training to improving agricultural education, each effort supports the common goal of connecting the world though great-tasting coffee.
Initiatives such as their Agribusiness Training Program in Rwanda, which is two and a half years of coursework and hands-on training, enable families to increase their revenue by more than double. With the added income, families are able to expand their farms, purchase health insurance, make improvements to their homes, and send their children to school.
“I get a salary where I work at Rwanda Trading Company. The money I get, I use at home, to buy clothes, pay for medical insurance, and buy shoes for the kids.” - Iyamubonye Alphonsine, Rwandan farmer partner
There’s no denying the impact Westrock has made not only on individual coffee farmers, but on entire communities. Their passion to make a real difference in these communities has led them to their latest project in the Mwito community of Rwanda. Here, Westrock has invested in the future of the community by building a pre-primary school that will support the children from many of the local farming families within the community.
Initially accommodating 280 students ages three through five, the school is expected to grow to 320 students in the near future. The school is located adjacent to an existing school with 637 students, and it will provide students of both schools and their families with continuous access to clean water. Spanish architect Nerea Amorós Elorduy designed the red brick school with creativity in mind. The students will be able to directly interact with the walls and space of their environment, inspiring creativity and hands-on learning. Access to preschool education is very rare in Mwito and the surrounding areas, but it is a vital part of education and will set the children up for success in later schooling and beyond. With an educational philosophy similar to that of Montessori or Reggio Emilia, the school will be providing the children of Mwito with opportunities and education that will shape their formative years in a remarkable way.
The school is going to make an incredible impact on the Mwito community, but it’s also a beautiful way for Westrock’s story to come full circle—it is built with repurposed materials from the original mill that was purchased ten years ago. When Westrock’s sister company, Rwanda Trading Company, moved from its original location into a larger processing facility, significant amounts of raw materials were left behind. In turn, these materials were recycled into the core foundation of the newest addition to the Westock family of facilities—the Mwito pre-primary school.