Blue Marble Dreams
In 2008 a visionary Rwandan, Kiki Katese, asked Jennie and Alexis, owners of Blue Marble Ice Cream in Brooklyn, NY, to open Rwanda’s first ever ice cream shop. This was not Kiki’s first time dreaming big – in the wake of the country’s horrific genocide in 1994, Kiki had challenged cultural norms and created Rwanda’s first ever all women’s drumming group.
This troupe had a powerful healing effect for the ladies involved, but Kiki wanted to take it a step further and create an income generating activity – one that would economically empower the women to be able to support themselves.
As Soon As You Dream It, It’s Done
In 2010, Inzozi Nziza (which translates to “Sweet Dreams” in Kinyarwanda), Rwanda’s
first ever ice cream shop was born in Butare, Rwanda! With the assistance of an initial group of generous donors, we established a non-profit, Blue Marble Dreams. This allowed us to launch the shop which is now fully owned by the cooperative of women drummers. By providing a sustainable means of income for the twelve women who work at the shop, they have been able to pay their children’s school fees, build houses for themselves, go to university and much more.
Inzozi Nziza not only benefits the women involved directly, it also contributes to the
local economy – dairy, coffee, and fruit farmers, craftsmen, electricians, and market
vendors. The shop provides a safe place for university students and other Rwandans to hang out; it also offers various community outreach projects (like a monthly kids’ day – learn more by checking out our blog here).
Spreading the Love
After the success of the first location in Butare, we turn our attention toward the development of a new shop in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. The new location will not only create more jobs and more joy, it will help our Rwandan partners expand their business by providing support services and training to the new venture. This Indiegogo campaign will fund research and key seed money towards a Kigali branch.
My name is Laura, and I was privileged to serve as a volunteer at the shop during the summer of 2011. I spent nine weeks with these passionate women, helping improve their English and developing customer service and small business skills to make Inzozi Nziza even more successful. I am thrilled to now be appointed Project Manager of Blue Marble Dreams, and I will be making my first trip back to Rwanda in December of this year to lend support in Butare and meet with Rwandan partners to develop our Kigali branch.
Empowering Women Worldwide
In 2006, Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations said, “It is impossible to realize our goals while discriminating against half the human race. As study after study has shown, there is no tool for development more effective than empowerment of women.” Blue Marble Dreams agrees with this belief that women’s empowerment is the most powerful tool for economic development. It has become clear in the realm of International Development that women have the same capabilities as men, but they are not given the same opportunities. Blue Marble Dreams would like to provide these opportunities for women worldwide.
Blue Marble Dreams is thrilled to be participating in this global effort to better the
lives of women and girls, creating overall development, and we invite YOU to help us
“We don’t think we’re going to save the country, or save lives, even. It’s just this pocket of possibility. They’ve experienced the ultimate darkness of humanity. Who could deserve a light experience more than they, and how could we not provide that experience if we can?” - Jennie, co-founder of Blue Marble Dreams, as featured in The New York Times
Learn more about Inzozi Nziza by watching segment of the documentary film Sweet Dreams as shown on Al Jezera English by clicking here.
Also, check out Inzozi Nziza’s blog here. Keep track of where your generous donations are being put to use and read updates on Blue Marble Dreams.
Want to see what Oprah, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and others have said about us? Click here.
Contributing money is not the only way to help. If you feel inspired by our project, please share it with your friends and family, post it on facebook, or tweet about it on twitter. Blue Marble Dreams, the women of Rwanda, and their families thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We would like to give a special thank you to Piper Watson for letting us use her amazing photos!