Bukonzo Joint is owned by its members — 83 percent women — who currently operate 5,500 small farms in the Rwenzori Mountains region of western Uganda, where they raise high-quality, organically grown, hand-picked coffee. Bukonzo Joint has a strong history of improving prospects for farming families from our roots as a rural microfinance society. We support our farmers with access to microfinance including interest-paying savings deposit, loans, and financial and business planning training and workshops. We also support our farmers in producing better coffee with access to one of our 33 micro washing stations, access to export markets, transport facilities and our high-quality coffee roasting operation.
Throughout the year, Bukonzo Joint offers training to its members, and to others interested in developing and improving similar organizations in Uganda and elsewhere in the world. Participants in past workshops have come from Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Latin America, Bangladesh, Netherlands, India, and Pakistan. These trainings focus on a variety of topics including gender action learning, women’s empowerment, business plan management, leadership skills, financial management, accounting and record keeping for family businesses as well as the operation of our Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs).
SAVINGS, CREDIT AND REINVESTMENT
Bukonzo Joint maintains a model microfinance institution designed to enable members to improve their standard of living by developing, sustaining, and expanding their own coffee farming businesses and to actively participate in the social and economic development of Kyarumba County and Uganda.
The Co-operative seeks to educate its members in the importance of individual and business savings, provides a safe, trusted place to deposit savings and earn interest, and offers agriculture and business loans. Members are encouraged to reinvest their funds in viable income generating activities and their coffee farms.
Indeed, perhaps nothing is a more effective means of grassroots group participation than Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA), which make it possible for those with low incomes, such as the coffee farmers in our region, to gain access to business development funds that are difficult or impossible for them to get from banks or other mainstream lending institutions. A VSLA also provides a local, village-based organization that enables individuals and families in the area to participate in savings culture – in many cases for the first time.
Bukonzo Joint facilitates the establishment of Village Savings and Loan Associations through workshops, training, and by providing material support, such as lockable boxes and a meeting space at our headquarters. Each of our 72 co-operative groups participate in their own VSLA utilizing Bukonzo Joint’s microfinance institution and banking partnerships for their deposits.
The Bukonzo Farmers Marketing Co-operative (BFMC) was created in 2005 with micro-finance support from Bukonzo Joint. We help farmers find domestic and international buyers for their organic coffee, and sell their coffee at the best possible price.
BFMC was founded with 77 farmer-shareholders and now includes all of Bukonzo Joint’s shareholders. We are a member of NUCAFE, a national agribusiness union, and East Africa Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA) and Joint Marketing Initiative (JMI).
Coffee production by Bukonzo Joint’s farmers has increased substantially every year — from about 13 tons in 2005, to more than 220 tons in 2012. At the same time Bukonzo Joint’s coffee farmers have put an even greater emphasis on quality control and the importance of jointly marketing their product. Bukonzo Joint sells its green bean coffee in South Africa, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States and anywhere in the world people enjoy superior coffee. We are experienced in exporting our ‘Owemba’ coffee to international buyers and we are always seeking new market opportunities. Please contact us if you are interested in importing our extremely high-quality, Fairtrade, USDA and EU certified Organic Uganda Arabica coffee.