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Rwandan woman secures funding for Kigali's first craft brewery

By Daniel Finnan

A Rwandan woman has raised almost 70,000 euros to fund Kigali’s first craft brewery using local ingredients to create a “fresh, new, made in Rwanda” beer. Entrepreneur Fina Uwineza, who is partnering with a Canadian brewery, surpassed the minimum fundraising target on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter with days to spare, receiving contributions from over 1,000 people.

“This is something that's never been there before because we have only big breweries," said Fina Uwineza, pointing out that it will be the first craft brewery in Kigali and the first owned completely by women.

Uwineza wants her brewery to provide beers that offer a tasty alternative to beers produced by big multinationals. "This is something that is trendy in Nairobi, trendy in Europe and America, why not us? Why not Kigali?"

Q&A: Fina Uwineza

Along with her Canadian partner, Beau’s All Natural Brewing, Uwineza has already been trialling different brews that could be produced in the Kigali brewery. They have tested recipes using sorghum and millet with the aim of reintroducing some African flavour.

The beer might draw on traditional beer brewed with banana or cassava alongside more typical ingredients, Uwinesa said. "Keeping in mind this is beer, we have to have the classic [flavours] with a little bit of flavour of traditional beer, bringing back our values.”

Besides trying to tap into the burgeoning market for craft beers, Uwineza is also keen to stress the involvement of local women in all aspects of the operation.

"A woman can be a brewer, she can be a technician, she can be a good salesperson, marketing person, this is what I'm trying to promote,” she told RFI. “I want women to feel like they can participate and be good, even better in these types of fields that were always dominated by men."

Uwineza’s project has received a brewhouse donated by Canadian firm Newlands as well as financing, expertise and training from Beau’s. The next step is purchasing a bottling line.

“This is a very exciting and amazing project,” she said.

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