The Rise of Africa’s Great Leaders

Rashida Nakabuga is a social scientist by training. She previously worked for NUCAFE, a coffee-farmer organization, and currently assumes the role of country representative for UTZ. Her main role is to develop initiatives and programs to tackle issues affecting farmers, such as boosting their market access.  

Rashida Nakabuga. (Photo by Meagan Doll)

The treasure we have in mother Africa of young energetic enthusiastic leaders is so astonishing! The capability of young minds creates innovations to uplift the impoverished and underprivileged communities all over the world. My passion is transforming societies. As leaders, we must work through this riddle and use the available tools to explore chances to solve multiple problems that have continued to impact our developmental potential.

Over 500 cups of coffee are consumed globally. In Uganda coffee contributes about 20% of the foreign exchange, contributing to over one million livelihoods. Therefore, there is need to put into context the works of small holder farmers who tirelessly contribute to produce coffee beans. Strolling down the villages of coffee growing communities in Uganda welcomes you to the green shades of the coffee bushes. The portraiture depicts hope during the coffee season that families will be able to earn a living. However small holder farmers continue to earn meager wages while other actors in the chain reap big rewards because they are able to occupy a position of competitiveness. With the opportunities I have had in life, my continued contribution to uplift communities to earn smart from their coffee farms is astounding to me.

My recent visit to a coffee roaster in the U.S. begins another journey to uplift communities. I was able to learn and see the different coffee brands developed by other countries – not a single one from Uganda or Tanzania! Uganda is the second-largest coffee producer in Africa and produces the best aromatic cup of Robusta or Arabica coffee, a brand with a traceable story from small holder farmers. The sustainability of Africa’s treasures lies with us leaders, and now working with UTZ for better farming, better future, I realize and build my capabilities to develop strategic partnerships that will support Ugandan coffee brands. For example in overseas cafes, I will live to see growth of innovations in my country Uganda.

YALI is such an inspiring opportunity that I will cherish. I will always look to this network to make Africa shine and innovate, innovate until we start reading dependency as part of ancient history. Long live the innovators of this program, “you are the light souls that have ignited the souls of young African leaders.’’