Year of Publication


Competition Category

Social Sciences


Arts and Sciences




Undoubtedly, coffee is a treasured commodity shared by people across the globe. One country where coffee takes a particular importance is in Rwanda, a land-locked country in Sub-Saharan Africa. Historical evidence suggests that colonization centered on gaining access to the economic rents produced by the coffee agricultural sector which deepened Rwandan economic and social divides. Following the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the national coffee industry was restructured to transition to premium, Fair Trade grade coffee. An increase in the number of coffee cooperatives provided opportunities for decreasing ethnic tension and for women to join the labor force. However, the economic impact of Fair Trade on coffee producer livelihood has been disputed. In this paper, I will analyze the history of the Rwandan coffee industry, examine the extent to which Fair Trade has impacted Rwandan coffee producers, and provide insight to alternative economic explanations for the country’s decreasing poverty levels.


Sydney Daniels won the first place in the Social Sciences category.