VANKLEEK HILL, Ont. — Beau’s All Natural is helping a female entrepreneur start up a locally owned and operated craft brewery in the African republic of Rwanda. The Eastern Ontario craft brewery will be providing financing, expertise and hands-on employee training to the start-up brewery and has sourced brewing equipment from industry suppliers. Beau’s is also launching a Kickstarter campaign for the Rwanda Craft Brewery Project with the goal of raising $95,000 in donations over the next two months to fund the purchase of a bottling line.
At the heart of the Rwanda Craft Brewery Project is owner Josephine “Fina” Uwineza, a Rwandan woman who is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Uwineza is a successful restaurateur in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, where she opened the city’s first-ever Chinese restaurant. A go-to destination for tourists and the embassy crowd, her two restaurants employ more than 50 staff.
Uwineza shared a business idea with the CG Group’s Nancy Coldham, a Toronto-based consultant who has travelled to, and worked extensively in, Rwanda as a mentor to female entrepreneurs. The connection with Coldham sparked an idea for a Canadian-inspired craft brewery in Rwanda. Coldham reached out to the Ontario Craft Brewers Association on behalf of Uwineza, who connected the women with Beau’s.
A team from Beau’s — including CEO Steve Beauchesne and CFO Tanya Beimers — travelled to Rwanda this past spring to meet Uwineza in person and get a sense of the scope of the project, as well as some of the specific challenges associated with it. The team also met with officials from the City of Kigali and the Republic of Rwanda.
“Meeting Fina, with her passion and confidence, and then also seeing the support from the government, women’s groups and the community, we knew this was a project that we had to be a part of,” says Beimers.
Beau’s will not collect any profits from the new brewery. “We have always done what we can to help other craft breweries, be it lending supplies and equipment, or looking over business plans. This project is significantly more involved, but it’s rooted in the same principles of being open and willing to help,” says Beauchesne.