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     Oct 3, 2014


In Rwanda and Haiti two new ice-cream shops are being run by women.

Rwandan percussionist Odile Gakire Katese, aka Kiki, had a dream: opening a branch of Blue Marble Ice Cream, an award-winning eco-friendly ice-cream shop, in her hometown. The plan itself may appear  a little unusual, considering Butare is a place still in the grip  of poverty and suffering the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, but she persuaded the two founders of Blue Marble Dreams to expand its venture to Rwanda. What really convinced Alexis Miesen and Jennie Dundas was the particular ‘flavour’ of Kiki’s idea: “We must do more than rebuild roads, we need to rebuild the people and prove to them that life is worth living”, she pointed out.

Inaugurated in 2010, Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams, in English) is managed by a cooperative made up entirely of women, giving them the chance to  develop skills, earn a wage and contribute to the local economy. The shop serves two freshly-made flavours every day, ranging from sweet cream to Rwandan black tea or coffee. Topping choices include homemade granola, Rwandan honey or sprinkles, amongst others. This experience was so successful that it turned out to be the subject of a critically-acclaimed feature-length documentary directed and produced by Lisa and Rob Fruchtman and released in 2013.

We can say Sweet Dreams’ success set the standard for the implementation of a similar project in Haiti, another country in need of a scoop of joy and  lightheartedness, where Bel Rev is about to open its doors in Port-au-Prince. In addition to ice-cream the shop will offer a children’s play area, a workshop space with computers and a courtyard area with benches. It will be staffed by members of a local organisation involved in supporting women who have been victims of sexual abuse: a concrete opportunity for many of them to rebuild their lives.


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