27 July 2009
Kigali The US based Starbucks stores will sell Rwandan-made textile products, Managing Director of L'Usine Textile du Rwanda (Utexrwa) has revealed.
Raj-Rajendran said in an interview with Business Times that Fair Winds Trading, an artisan promotion company will supply of the customised cotton bags and other textile products to Starbucks.
"They offer us with 'patented' designs and develop them into final products," he explained. The Starbucks website says that the textile products include authentic African fabric tumblers and cotton canvas hand sewn totes.
The developments follow the coffee company CEO's visit to the factory in June. Howard Schultz visited the country's only textile industry during his visit to Rwanda, when he also opened up a country office, first on the continent.
Rajendran explained that Starbucks having appreciated the quality during the visit, the company expects more and bigger orders for its products. "This will be boosted with the expected Fair-Trade Certification, which we expect soon," he added.
The Utexrwa management says that Fair Winds Trading has since March, 2009 exported Rwandan textile to the US market. This is believed to be behind the 25 percent increase revenues from the company's export to the United States market through the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA).
Trade statistics show that Utexrwa recorded $0.5 million (Rwf284.2 million) in revenue in the first half of this year compared to $0.4 million (Rwf227.3 million) registered the whole of last year.
Apart from the Rwandan coffee and textile shopping bags, Starbucks also helps market other Rwandan products such as baskets in over 13,000 stores. All these products will be featured in the stores this summer.
Starbucks buys coffee beans from countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. However, the other products are supplied by Fair Winds Trading.