Press releases

Digitalizing the coffee supply chain of women-owned businesses in Rwanda

3 November 2021
ITC News
(2 November, Geneva/Kigali) The International Trade Centre (ITC) has joined forces with Farmer Connect to digitalize the coffee supply chain of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises in Rwanda.

Coffee is central to Rwanda. It is a key driver of economic growth, stability, and improved income for over 450,000 coffee farmers. As the country’s leading export crop, it has contributed an average of 24% to total agricultural exports over the last decade. Agriculture contributes 26% to GDP, with 79.5% of the population reliant on mostly subsistence agriculture. 

The pandemic-induced lockdowns have demonstrated the importance of using digital channels to reach new markets and stay connected with existing customers. Moreover, as consumers increasingly lose trust in food value chains, buyers are under pressure to increase traceability and provide full transparency to consumers on where their goods are sourced.

A new type of blockchain technology implemented by Farmer Connect facilitates the collection and validation of this information in the coffee supply chain, by capturing the coffee farmer’s transactions. The International Trade Centre recognizes the importance of blockchain technology for traceability as it offers greater transparency in the supply chain and increased visibility for women-owned small holder farmers to international buyers.

As such, the International Trade Centre’s ecomConnect team is trialling the Farmer Connect technology with Nova Coffee, a woman-owned coffee processor engaged with 2,880 local small-scale farmers.

Under its SheTrades Rwanda project financed by the Enhanced Integrated Framework, this International Trade Centre pilot uses the Swiss-based Farmer Connect traceability software (powered by IBM) to track data in the supply chain for one container of coffee, from the farmer to the roaster.

In parallel, the International Trade Centre supports the branding and digital presence of processing companies, like Nova. The pilot will document the impact of these two activities on the value chain. They will demonstrate how collecting and capturing data on the blockchain, as well as creating story lines on women-owned Rwandan Coffee processors and their farmers, can build better market access and promote inclusive trade.

The results of the pilot will be shared during the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Global flagship event in Dubai in February 2022.

“Supporting farmers in origin markets is core to our goals as a company, as we believe that technology-led traceability is key to establishing responsible sourcing and achieving a living income for farmers.”

Michael Chrisment, CEO of farmer connect®


For more information on this project, please contact:

Ms. Michelle Kristy
SheTrades Rwanda Project Manager
International Trade Centre
kristy [at] (kristy[at]intracen[dot]org)


About ITC - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.
ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
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About farmer connect® 
farmer connect® is an agritech start-up that brings transparency to global supply chains through cutting-edge technology solutions. Founded and headquartered in Switzerland, its supply chain digitisation solutions are designed to support increased traceability, efficiency, and sustainability, starting with coffee and cacao.

Built on emerging technologies, including blockchain, self-sovereign identity, and artificial intelligence, the agritech ecosystem allows secure data storage and sharing, as well as the exchange and tracking of information and payments.

The initiative is supported by industry leaders who recognise digitalisation, transparency and sustainability are the most relevant trends in the food and beverage sector, and who are committed to investing in building more sustainable industries going forwards.x

For more information about farmer connect®, visit: