In 2012, Angele Ciza and Consolata, two friends (and experienced businesswomen), decided to go into the coffee business together. They purchased seven washing stations that had been part of the old government-run Sogestal program, with the idea of working in close partnership with growers so they could process and export Burundi’s best coffees. After a few years, Angele and Consolate parted ways, and Angele took over running Kahawa Link Company (Kalico, for short). The pride and satisfaction Angele and Alex, her son, take in the company comes through in their excitement for forging friendships with their buyers.
The washing stations are in the Kirundo, Ngozi, and Muyinga Provinces in North-Eastern Burundi, each serving 1,000-3,000 small-scale farmers who grow primarily the bourbon varietal. They wet ferment the coffee for 12-18 hours, then do a one-hour soak, wash and pre-dry, and sort before drying the coffee on raised beds. To improve the quality of the coffee produced, Angele and Alex knew they needed to start with the education of the producers, so they began with outreach to ensure best practices from nurseries to picking. As the quality and value of the coffee increases, Kalico investing in additional training, environmental protection, inputs, micro-credit, micro-insurance, and social infrastructures in partnership with the producer organizations that deliver to their washing stations.
Sadly, Angele passed away in August 2022 due to a health-related issue. As her family expressed, Angele’s “remarkable achievements for Burundian society, her immense love and commitment for the development of rural communities are the greatest legacy we all inherit from her. She will always be engraved in the worldwide success that Kalico has experienced and will keep on experiencing throughout the years as a result of her assiduous work and determination.” Anyone fortunate enough to have met Angele Ciza will never forget her.