Blue Marble Dreams' first project was the creation of Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams), Rwanda's first-ever local ice cream shop. Our partner in this unique venture was Ngoma Nshya (New Reign), Rwanda's first and only all-women drumming troupe.
Ngoma Nshya was founded in 2005 by Kiki Katese, a Rwandan artist. Kiki conceived the group as an opportunity to bring women together from both sides of the 1994 genocide and provide them with a means to express themselves, expand their sense of self and nurture the reconciliation process in a new and creative way.
Over time, the group developed into a talented, cohesive team of performers. Yet, they still struggled with severe hardship at home and faced pressure from their families to abandon drumming and tend to their domestic duties. Eager to mitigate this pressure and provide material support for the women, Kiki began to seek income-generating activities for the group.
In 2008, Kiki met Blue Marble Ice Cream's co-owner, Jennie Dundas, at an artists' workshop in the US. When she learned of our business, she found the opportunity she was looking for. Could we come to Rwanda and help these women open an ice cream shop of their own, she asked?
We were surprised but intrigued by the question and asked Kiki to explain her reasoning. Here's what she said: 1, it would create training and employment opportunities for the women. 2, it would support local farmers and producers. And 3, it would serve as a place for people to gather, indulge and heal.
Inspired by her reasoning, we signed on and dug in. After two years of planning, fundraising and traveling, we opened the doors to Sweet Dreams in 2010. The shop has endured challenges like any business but is alive and well today. Through Inzozi Nziza, we have trained and employed dozens of women, indirectly supported 200+ family members, buoyed the local economy and provided a special place for the community to feel safe, happy and renewed.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (December 2013)