Christine’s Rwanda banana wine conquers Africa – and the world

Christine Murebwayire in Rwanda lost her husband in 2003 and had to beg for money to feed her four children. A family banana wine recipe she had learned about as a child changed her life. She now heads a banana wine co-operative that produces 5,000 crates of Ibanga banana wine per week, selling to East African countries and – soon – to the US.

After her husband died, Christine Murebwayire attend a short Rwanda government agricultural course that encouraged small-scale farmers to form cooperatives. With 200 dollars of borrowed money she started growing bananas from high-yield varieties. She processed them into a sweet, fruity wine which she sold to local bars. Soon after that she had tripled her investors’ money.

Christine is now the managing director of Co-operative de Production du Vin de Banane (Coproviba) which has grown to 28 members – 20 of whom are women – and works with 43 smallholder farmers. The wine that the co-operative produces is put in 320ml bottles (alcohol percentage: 14) that retail for 400 Rwandan francs (€0,45) at groceries and supermarkets around Rwanda.

‘How we made it in Africa’ reports that Murebwayire was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women programme, and won a cash prize which she used to apply for a loan to grow her business. About 20% of production is exported to other east African countries, such as Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The next step for the co-operation is exporting to the US.

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