Rwandan university graduates on a mission to make wine from coffee | The new times

When Jean Aberd Bavakure, Pierre Claver Nsanzumuhire and Chris Munyankindi graduated from the University of Rwanda’s College of Agriculture, Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine last year, they weren’t keeping up with applications as often do. many new university graduates.

Instead, they hit the road and were busy working on their own project. With their bachelor’s degree in agro-industry, they knew how to apply business strategies and economic principles to solve problems of production, distribution and consumption of agricultural products and they were eager to get there.

Earlier, while still in college, they teamed up to produce wine from coffee, tree tomatoes, papaya, and lemons. They had big dreams.

Their unique project won a Rwf3.5 million cash prize from the YouthConnekt Awards in April. In June, they showcased their product at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Kigali.

Nyuzuza wine is made from coffee, lemon, papaya and tomatoes.

Nsanzumuhire told Doing Business that the idea came to him while they were at university taking an agribusiness course.

The group’s winery is now based in the Jenda sector of Nyabihu district, where their college has been provided with a working space. The region also has enough raw materials for their project.

“We were in the same class at university. In 2018, we used to attend different seminars aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship among young people to prepare their future and prepare them for the labor market. That’s when we started thinking about how we could use the knowledge gained,” Nsanzumuhire told Doing Business.

“The professional orientation day that takes place every year at UR also nurtured and guided us on how to develop projects and present them in different competitions. One day we also attended a food processing training which helped us to brainstorm and select a food processing project. We have conducted research and trials on the production of wine from coffee, papaya, lemon and tree tomatoes using university laboratories.

Their project first received a Rwf100,000 cash prize at a college career day when they came out as fourth best presenters.

Later, they participated in another competition for young people with food processing ideas and won Rwf200,000 after placing third. Things were looking up and morale was good.

Their wine is packaged in 75 cl bottles and costs Frw 7,000.

In 2021, the trio presented themselves for the YouthConnekt awards. They have won at the district, provincial and national levels.

“At the national level, we were among the top 10 winners out of more than 200 competing projects and we received a cash prize of Rwf3.5 million,” Nsanzumuhire said.

The money was put to good use, Nsanzumuhire said, noting that they bought wine processing machinery.

“We believe there are huge opportunities as Rwanda mainly depends on imported wine. Once our business grows, we will play an important role in reducing the import bill. We did an assessment and found that we are the only ones in Rwanda making wine from coffee, papaya, lemon and tree tomatoes.

We started with a university food processing laboratory

They started by making 10 bottles of 75 centiliters each as a sample.

“We would use the sample to exhibit in different competitions and exhibitions. We gradually increased the sample as we got small amounts of money. We have a processing and mixing machine, but we started with a university food processing lab,” he said.

Considering wine takes time to mature, from September 2021 to April 2022 they produced 30 liters of wine.

“Today we have a tank that can store 500 litres. And we already have 300 liters of wine that will mature and be ready to drink soon,” he said.

Since December 2021, they can now rent their production workshop.

“We package the wine in 75 cl bottles. We sell each bottle at Frw 7,000. By 2023, we will produce and sell 2,780 bottles of wine each year. Meanwhile, we are working hard to get standardization mark so that we can better exploit the market. »

They need 22 million Rwandan francs to achieve this, he noted, sounding optimistic.

The team hired a food scientist to help improve the quality and standards of their wine in order to acquire the standardization mark (SMARK).

Normally for nascent local innovators, the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) has introduced Zamukana Ubuziranenge, a program that helps local industries achieve the desired quality and safety performance. The program also aims to enhance the quality of Rwandan SMEs.

Under this initiative, small industries are trained in standards and quality assurance to help them improve the quality and standards of their products so that they can qualify for a standards mark. The latter helps them to become more competitive in local and regional markets.

“We want to be part of the program to pave the way for us to achieve the standards mark,” Nsanzumuhire said.

In the meantime, they sell their wine with the support of partners including their former university.

As they grow, they plan to start growing their own coffee, papaya, lemon and tree tomatoes – their main raw materials – and work more closely with farmers to ensure a steady supply of raw materials, among other things. .

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