Slideshow: Inzozi Nziza, a Social Enterprise, Creates a Market for Ice Cream in Rwanda
Thursday, June 16, 2011
It’s an unlikely place for an ice cream shop, and an even more unlikely batch of people to be running it.
Inzozi Nziza, or “Sweet Dreams” in Kinyarwanda, is Rwanda’s first and only local ice cream shop. Located in the small university town of Butare, it celebrated its one year anniversary this week. While its struggles have been great, from importing a soft-serve ice cream machine into this tiny landlocked country where only one person knows (kind-of) how to fix it, to keeping the employees from scooping too deep out of a cultural generosity towards customers, this little shop has much to celebrate.
It all started as an idea by a passionate, creative, and outspoken Rwandan artist named Odile Gakire Katese, (better known as Kiki) pitched to Jennie Dundas, actress and co-founder of Blue Marble Ice Cream in Brooklyn, New York, at the Sundance Institute in 2008. The idea was to create a sustainable business for the women of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first ever women’s drumming group, that could also bring economic opportunity via ice cream, to a country going through a difficult post-genocide period.
Before officially opening shop in 2010, Blue Marble Dreams partnered with BPeace, a nonprofit organization which helps train women entrepreneurs in conflict-affected countries to “create significant employment for all and expand the economic power of women.” Together, they brought consultants from all over the world to Rwanda to train the women in management, accounting, business planning, customer service, quality control and, of course, making ice cream.