The Peace Kawomera Cooperative
I brought the idea to my fellow friends, Muslims and Christians, and I said we should make a co-op selling our coffee but as well as spreading peace in the world.
They were all so happy so we called it Mirembe, which means peace, Kawomera, which means that even our coffee must be of quality.
Then we made that cooperative.
Mirembe Kawomera Coffee began with one man’s dream. In 2003, JJ Keki, a Ugandan coffee farmer, walked door to door asking his Jewish, Christian, and Muslim neighbors to put aside old differences and come together. Their community of third and fourth generation coffee farmers was struggling to make a living off the low prices offered by the local market. With the assistance of Laura Wetzler from the US-based organization Kulanu, these Jewish, Christian and Muslim farmers formed a cooperative to build lasting prosperity in their villages and to spread a message of peace throughout the world. They named their coffee Mirembe Kawomera, which means, “Delicious Peace” in the Luganda language.
Now in 2009, the Peace Kawomera Cooperative has grown to over 1,000 members. Thanks to their collective effort, the farmers sell directly to Thanksgiving Coffee Company, and receive prices four times higher than what they were previously paid. This has enabled farmers to send their children to school, start savings accounts, and reinvest in their farms.
Together, the farmers have succeeded in doing something that none could have done alone. As they face the many challenges of life in rural Uganda, they look to their cooperative for hope and strength. In the coming years, the Cooperative plans to invest in land and equipment, offer microfinance to members and contribute to a variety of public health and education projects. Please visit our Community Development section to learn more about the Cooperative’s struggles and successes.
How Delicious Peace Came To Us
by Paul Katzeff, CEO
The Jewish Bantus of Uganda caught my attention, but it was when she described the other two thirds of the cooperative that my heart really began to pound. “There are Muslims and Christians in this coffee cooperative,” she continued. “They are all working together. It’s one community. The co-op president is Jewish, the vice-president is Christian, and the treasurer is Muslim. There are hundreds of families all together; they have one container to sell and soon this year’s crop will be coming...”
“I’ll buy it all,” I said. “All or nothing. I want the entire story. I don’t want any other coffee company to have a single bag. I want to bring this story to the world.”...