Case study

Exploring empowerment outcomes and the upgrading of women’s economic and social roles in South Kivu’s coffee sector

ÉLAN RDC’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Learning Series: Case Study 3

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Women and working-aged adolescent girls in DRC are some of the most marginalised in the world. 

This case study describes women's positive outcomes and economic empowerment when given more beneficial roles in the market system.

In 2014 ELAN RDC formed partnerships with Muugano (coffee co-op) and the NGO, TWIN to pilot a business model for coffee produced by women, with an emphasis on social impact, to be sold at a premium to Western markets. The price premium in turn was passed back to the producers.

Women have experienced significant positive change in their lives as result of participating in the ELAN/TWIN-facilitated ‘café-femme’ initiative. 

  • Enhanced economic resilience
    The meaningful increases to their income, and greater influence over how this is used, allowed them to invest both in the well-being of their families and in additional entrepreneurial activities.
  • Significant improvements in their economic roles
    Many entered a new, high-value sector; benefiting from improved working conditions; taking on leadership roles, and/or improved their status within their family, community, and workplace. And despite gender power differentials still being evident, 55 per cent of men working at Muungano granted plots to their wives, registering them in their name. 


ÉLAN RDC is a UK Aid funded private sector development programme that uses a market systems approach to facilitate pro-poor economic growth in the DRC.