Andria Mukamazimpaka spreads thousands of tiny grains of sorghum in an even layer across a giant tarp, crawling on her hands and knees to reach the farthest corner. She spent the last three days soaking the grains in water until they sprouted and turned black, and now they’re drying in the heat of the Rwandan sun. There are three large tarps covered in sprouted sorghum lying on the hillside road in front of Andria’s house—luckily, not much traffic comes this way. By tomorrow, the grain will be dry enough to take to the market to be sold as malt.
Malt-making is good business for Andria, who has several loyal customers who buy the sprouted grains to make ikigage, a local type of beer, and ubushera, a traditional Rwandan drink that’s non-alcoholic. After buying sorghum from local suppliers and reselling it as malt, she usually makes around 45,000 Rwandan francs (about $50) a week.
In previous years, that sort of money would have been unheard of for 52-year-old Andria. She used to support the family growing beans and maize on a small farm, less than an acre in size, and by taking out loans to run her malt business, which cut into her profits. Then in 2014, Andria heard about One Acre Fund. After enrolling in the organization, she received high-quality seeds and used fertilizer for the first time. Her harvest more than quadrupled.
Andria invested her new income into expanding her malt business. Now she’s buying and selling about three times more grain than before. She no longer has to take out loans to buy raw materials, which means she gets to keep more of her profits. Over time, the family has become more prosperous. They’ve installed electricity and running water in their house, and Andria was able to pay for driving lessons so that her 25-year-old son, Vedaste, could get his license. Vedaste started out driving a motorbike for another person’s taxi company, but now he has his own bike and a business of his own.
“I will keep working hard for my family,” says Andria, who hopes her youngest son, who’s 9, will go to university. “I hope my children will have more than I had.”