When Sarah traveled to Kenya, she didn’t know that trip was going to change her life. After spending time in developing nations, seeing first hand the link between agriculture and poverty, Sarah co-founded Kula Project, with the goal of eliminating poverty for future generations by equipping one billion small farmers to do it.
What is Kula Project and what is the aim?
Kula invests in coffee farmers in the developing world to create generational change.
We strongly believe that Africans have the ideas, businesses and solutions to lift their families out of poverty when they access to the necessary resources; and we want to be the people that connect them to those resources, whether it’s funding, technical training, or access to market. We are currently working in Rwanda, as the beautiful people of this country continue to rebuild their lives post-genocide.
What inspired you to start Kula Project?
Most people think I grew up on a farm or have always had a passion for it, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. I started Kula after working in Kenya and seeing how many children went days without food and lifetimes without an education, and I wanted to change that. The more and more I spoke with women, the more I realised that the success of their family was directly correlated to the success of their family farm, a farm that is on average, smaller than a football field. I thought, if I want to help give these children a chance, the most sustainable way to do that was empower their parents to do it on their own.
When and how did you get started?
On May 14, we’re about to celebrate 3 years! We definitely started on a bootstrap! We had to make and sell t-shirts just to be able to pay the IRS filing fee! Out first year and a half was a lot of, sometimes painful, trial and error, but we kept at it!
Why the coffee tree?
It costs us $6 to provide a coffee tree and everything a coffee tree needs to be successful. This one tree will provide an income for a family for over 30 years!
What’s been achieved so far?
Last year, our farmers planted over 5,000 coffee trees and 1,00 banana trees. We use banana trees as a shade tree for the coffee. In addition to producing bananas for the family as a nutrition supplement and an additional income opportunity, the bananas will protect the trees from the rapidly changing climate. They also provide continuous mulch, which is extremely important for the health of a coffee tree.
What’s your favourite experience from the project to date?
It is definitely the relationships we’ve been able to create with our famers. They have truly become our friends. One day, I was walking hand-in-hand with Gertrude, a beautiful woman in our program, and she randomly stopped stopped, squeezed my hand, looked at me and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for partnering with us. Thank you for always being my friend.” Besides her gratitude, what meant most to me was the fact the she saw me as a partnership and friend.
Top 3 things about the Rwandan communities you’ve worked with?
- In our program, we have farmers that survived the genocide and farmers that committed it.
- All of our farmers have incredible entrepreneurial spirits. When you talk to them, they have so many ideas for new businesses.
- 40% of the population is under 15 and only 3% is over 60.
Do you have a favourite life motto?
“Nothing is invented and perfected at the same time”
Lastly, how can people get involved with Kula Project?
Join our story! Our farmers have big plans and we need funding to make it happen. You can invest in our farmers at KulaProject.org/donate. If you can’t give, we would simply love for you to share our story!