Success Story: Cooperative Development Mushrooms in Rwanda

Success Story: Cooperative Development Mushrooms in Rwanda

mushrooms

Supported by CHF International and CHAMP through the Society of Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA), Asovenya is one of thousands of grassroots organizations in Rwanda comprised of community members who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Asovenya was originally established as an association of 82 people in 2005, and its members earned money by weaving traditional baskets. Although they took substantial time and effort to produce, members only earned about $5.50 a month for their beautiful baskets. But later, through a $2,800 grant and technical assistance provided by CHF and SWAA, Asovenya transformed into a cooperative, and switched their members from basket weaving to rearing goats and cultivating mushrooms, which were more lucrative sources of income. As a result, the monthly earnings for the cooperative’s members have tripled to about $15 a month.

goats

Their goats have grown in number from 25 to 76, and the cooperative already has over $1,800 in assets, which continues to grow. These funds are being used to pay school fees and insurance for the children of Asovenya’s members, they have distributed insecticide-treated bed nets to all members to prevent malaria, and even organized mobile HIV voluntary counseling and testing services to come directly into their community. Asovenya’s members have found that their new efforts are not only improving their economic conditions, but some anecdotally report that eating the mushrooms has prevented some of the sight deterioration common among people living with HIV, while decreasing the incidence of them contracting opportunistic infections. Looking towards the future, Asovenya’s members are now researching avenues to obtain microfinance loans so that they can purchase additional land, with room for large-scale cultivation, and even purchase some labor-saving machinery.