Rubirizi, Western Uganda. The charcoal stove is making popping sounds. The smell of freshly roasted coffee lingers in the air.
Pascal Mukonzo is a field officer managing water projects for the Norwegian NGO Fontes Foundation. When he is not securing drinkable water to fishing villages in Western Uganda, he runs a small coffee business called the Katara Coffee Initiative.
The coffee is grown in Rubirizi in Western Uganda and hand-roasted on charcoal. In addition to supplying several lodges in the area with beans, he is also the main supplier of the coffee that fuels our code here at Laboremus.
This year, he roasted up 8.5 kg of coffee as a very special Christmas gift to our clients in Norway. Norwegians are the second most caffeinated people in the world (with a consumption of 9.9 kg per capita per year), while Uganda is the 8th largest exporter of coffee in the world (with 635 million pounds of beans exported every year). So this truly felt like a match made in java.
“I started a coffee business mainly to develop myself, but also to support my family and some community members who work for the project. My coffee business has faced ups and downs but it has also been a learning experience,” says Pascal.
Our relationship with Pascal and Fontes Foundation goes back to the early days of Laboremus.
In Uganda, the Fontes Foundation is working towards community development through water, sanitation, and education projects. In Kampala, the foundation runs a Youth Development Centre. The aim of the centre is to provide disadvantaged youth from all backgrounds and at all educational levels with the necessary skills and insights to get employment or start a business.
Laboremus has supported and worked with Fontes since we started our office in Uganda in 2013, and several staff members are mentors to students. 2019 will see more collaboration as we embark on our new tech academy, a joint venture between Fontes Foundation, Clarke International University and Laboremus.
We hope all of our clients in Norway will enjoy Pascal’s coffee as much as we do, and that it will bring you some Ugandan heat during the cold, Norwegian winter.
– Merry Christmas from all of us here at Laboremus!
You can read more about the work Pascal and Fontes do at fontes.no.