Rwandan Fair Trade Group Grows Faith and Relationships

The Twivanemubukene, We Come Out of Poverty, Cooperative was started in 2007 with 15 women who came together in order to fight poverty and share skills in handicrafts. These women, many who are widows, were neighbors and members of the same parish, and when they saw a problem, they decided to do something about it as a group. They are united by their faith and determination to bring positive change into their lives.

The artisans with Twivanemubukene specialize in weaving with banana tree and palm leaves. The banana tree leaves are stripped off the sides of the trees, which grow almost like onions, in layers. The leaves can be pulled off without damaging the plant, and then, because they are sturdy, can be turned into almost anything.

Most of the crafting work is done by each member in her own home, but the group meets every Monday and Friday afternoon. With this time, the members work together, practice their skills, teach each other, and encourage one another in all aspects of their lives. They discuss issues such as family planning, and they sing and pray together.

Each week the members make a small contribution to the cooperative, which is used to benefit all the members. They have been able to purchase solar lamps and stoves that use less firewood through an Azizi Life microcredit plan.

Azizi Life, a new member of Jesus’ Economy, represents 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda.

Shopping fair trade is a great way to encourage and uplift people around the world.

Charlotte Van Werven
Charlotte Van Werven


Apprentice in Writing and Editorial for Jesus' Economy