Charlotte Fikiri in her own words

Exploradora Coffee is a journey of celebrating women in coffee. Charlotte Fikiri is a VP within the Mapendo Women co-op in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How long have you worked in the coffee industry?

Since 2009, almost 12 years.

What were you doing before?

I was buying and selling different fruits and vegetables, and I also sometimes smuggled coffee to Rwanda

How has working at the co-op influenced your life?

It has definitely improved my quality of life. I’m better able to take care of my family, without only relying on my husband. I’m also able to buy goats whose manure increases the soil’s fertility and I can pay my children’s school fees so they can have a bright future.

What is your job? I.e. washing beans, growing, picking, managing cupping sessions, etc.

I’m a coffee grower and a VP within the cooperative.

Aside from working at the co-op, how does coffee influence your life?

I’m always happy when I get my coffee premiums and bonus, having access to money gives me financial options and helps me keep my family stable. Being able to work on and launch different projects without relying on my husband’s money feels good.

What are the joys you find from working with coffee?

The opportunities make me the happiest. Being able to pay my children’s medical bills makes me feel good, and helps me to get more respect from my family.

How would you like to see the coffee world change? What are the struggles?

I would like for women to be represented across the coffee value chain and for our coffee to be sold at a reasonable price. The future of many women growers in the industry depends on fair compensation.

Do you think there is room for more women in the coffee industry and where?

Women have an important role to play across the entire coffee value chain and not just in the fields.

If you didn’t work in the coffee industry, what would you do instead?

I would be in the fishing industry, buying and selling small fish, minnows.

What’s your favorite form of self expression?

Cooking for my family and marketing our products.

What would you want coffee buyers in the US to know about you?

I’d like them to continue to buy from and support women producers. The more they buy, and the more often they buy, the more they make a positive impact on our lives.

To learn more about Exploradora Coffee and tasting the coffee produced by Charlotte and other women in the coffee world, check out

Co-Founder of Exploradora Coffee.