Meet Cohort 1 of the Rwanda Fellows

The African Food Fellowship brings together aspiring leaders from different backgrounds to establish a critical mass of fellows who deeply understand and are committed to the practice of cross-sector collaboration and innovation in food systems. Together they can shape agendas and set priorities for investment, policy and action. Our Fellows in Rwanda work in three key impact areas: Access to Nutritious Food, Food Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Land Use.

Access to Nutritious Food Fellows

Aime Kayumba

Aime is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow and a development and agribusiness specialist. He is the founder & CEO of Rural Development Initiative (RDI), a youth volunteer organisation that is working to transform subsistence agriculture through training and connecting smallholder farmers to markets and inculcating positive mindsets about farming as a business. He has experience mobilising university students and faculty to support small-scale farmer cooperatives around campuses by training them on farm business management and planning. He holds a BSc in Rural Development and Agri-business from University of Rwanda and an MA in International Development Administration from Andrews University, Michigan, USA. He was named the Volunteer of the Year 2011 by the United Nations Volunteers. RDI has been recognised by the Ministry of Youth for its contribution to peace and development in Rwanda.

Darius Bazimya

Darius is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow and a nutrition and health specialist with experience in research and fundraising for programmes aimed at preventing malnutrition among vulnerable groups. He currently works as a nutrition and health officer at Choices International Foundation where his assignments include reviewing and comparing food product classifications internationally and across different regions. Darius previously worked as a nutrition and gender with USAID, volunteer at Rwanda Military Hospital, World Vision, UNICEF, Gahini District Hospital, and Rwanda Social Security Board. He has an MA in Nutrition and Health from Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands, and a BSc. in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from University of Rwanda. In 2019 he was awarded a certificate in Food Systems for Health and Sustainable Diets by Wageningen Centre for Innovation Development.

Ella Mutuyimana

Ella is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow and a marketing specialist with experience in designing and implementing social impact projects, conducting market surveys and creating marketing and sales plans. As Chief Impact Officer at Kigali Farms, a mushroom farming company, she leads strategy and implementation of the company’s social impact goals. Her responsibilities include monitoring and evaluation of projects, preparing reports for donors and other stakeholders, and fundraising. Previously as a marketing consultant at Kigali Farms, she led the introduction of the first Rwandan button mushrooms in the market. She is also a part-time film maker and interior designer, and has participated in and won several screenplay competitions organized by the Goethe Institute Kigali, and the Canal France International Haraka competition and the African Story Challenge to produce a documentary on agriculture and food security. She holds a BSc. in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

Florence Mwashimba

Florence is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow, entrepreneur and sales and marketing specialist. She has extensive experience working with startups in the circular economy and promoting trade and products. She founded Kigalifaam and PIMA Zero Waste Shop, both the first of their kind in Rwanda, to collect, sort and upcycle tonnes of recyclables in the country. She has also worked with large and small businesses as an aggregator to ensure access to affordable food products. Her work promoting use of local products and supporting local producers has been featured and/or mentioned in leading international media outlets, including the National Geographic and CNBC Africa. Notable achievements include being recognised as the Social Founder of the Year, 2021 finalist, Rwanda (Founder Of The Year Awards - FOYA). She holds a BA in Anthropology and Cultural Studies.

Epiphanie Karekezi

Epiphanie is an Access to Nutritious Foods Fellow and a business development specialist with experience leading farm input distribution and post-harvest loss reduction programmes, organising policy events, establishing market linkages, and building trade systems both in the public and private sectors. She is currently consulting for agribusinesses. She has previously worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources of Rwanda, where she oversaw a fertiliser subsidy programme, and the Eastern Africa Grain Council, a regional organisation focusing on structuring grain trade in eastern and southern countries of Africa. Her achievements include organizing the 5 th African Grain Trade that was held in Kigali, working on the feasibility study of a warehouse receipt system in Rwanda for CNFA/Hinga Weze, a USAID/Feed the Future project, and leading a project on combating aflatoxin prevalence in the maize value chain funded by the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa. She holds an MSc from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and a and BSc in Computer Science from National University of Rwanda.

Josine Umuhire Munyentwali

Josine is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow, researcher and finance specialist with experience designing post-harvest handling and storage technology extension services. She has conducted baseline, feasibility and impact studies, and supported farmer cooperatives and smallholders to access finance. She is currently working as a post-harvest handling research technician at Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Board (RAB). She contributed to the assessment of aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination levels in maize and mycotoxins awareness and risk factors in Rwanda. Her notable achievements include developing training manuals on preventing malnutrition, mitigating mycotoxin and Aflasafe usage, which are helping small holder farmers and farmer cooperatives to improve their post-harvest handling. She holds an Msc. in Food Security Sciences from Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences-Wageningen, Netherlands, and a BA in Finance from University of Lay Adventists of Kigali (UNILAK).

Theogene Dusingizimana, PhD

Theogene Dusingizimana is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow and a nutritionist with experience in teaching and research. He is a Lecturer at the University of Rwanda. He researched the determinants of child nutritional status, with a particular emphasis on the influence of child feeding and health practices. He is also interested in the role of agricultural interventions and food systems for nutrition. Theogene has published several articles and contributed to different national task forces, including the National Food and Nutrition Technical Working Group. He has also worked with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) as a consultant providing technical assistance to several Rwandan small-and-medium-size enterprises to accelerate their capacity for production and marketing of nutritious and safe foods. He holds a PhD in Nutritional Science from Massey University, New Zealand, an MSc. in Human Nutrition from Gent University, and a BSc. in Food Science and Technology from (former) Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. His current postdoctoral research project focuses on innovations and innovation systems for food security and nutrition.

Yves Jean Ntimugura

Yves is a Access to Nutritious Food Fellow and a public health nutrition specialist with experience in humanitarian and development programmes. His responsibilities as a programs associate at Caritas Rwanda include supporting the senior management in developing project proposals; engagement with government, donors and other non-government organisations. He also coordinates capacity development and team building for junior staff working on nutrition, ECD, WASH, livelihood, agriculture, social protection and humanitarian assistance programmes. Notable achievements include leading a team that managed to reduce acute malnutrition rate from 8% to 4% and stunting rate from 47% to 37% at a camp hosting Burundian refugees while working as a nutrition coordinator in 2015. He was recognised as young coordinator with creative and innovative ideas in programming for improved access to nutritious foods while working on a USAID-supported nutrition and WASH programme. He holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from University of Rwanda and is currently finalising a Master’s course in Public Health (Global health) at Mount Kenya University Rwanda.

Kaze Ange Aimee

Kaze is an Access to Nutritious Foods Fellow and entrepreneur who runs Kaze’s Kitchen, a bakery business she founded to promote access to nutritious foods in Kigali, Rwanda. Her bakery mainly targets the niche market for sugar, gluten and lactose-free products. She is part of two key business networks in Rwanda, including Tourism Inc. that supports innovative female-led startups. She also has experience managing community development programmes having worked as a research assistant and a district supervisor for an NGO associated with the First Lady of Rwanda and as project assistant on community a water project. Notable achievements include winning the prototyping grant in the Tourism Inc. competition. She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Rwanda.

Jean Baptiste Ndahetuye, PhD

Jean is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow, a food scientist and scholar with experience in research and extension services meant to improve quality and safety standards in the dairy value chain. Besides his role as a Senior Lecturer at University of Rwanda, he is also the Operations Research Coordinator for the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold Chain (ACES). He has researched mastitis, milk quality and safety. As an International Livestock Research Institute (IRLI) fellow, he has mentored a number of young researchers on pitching research ideas, writing and communicating research to different stakeholders. He won the second prize (Biosciences Category) in ILRI’s three-minute research pitching contest in March 2021. Notable achievements include winning the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) Award in 2019 for Scientific Excellence in a Feed the Future Innovation Lab. He holds PhD from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, a Master`s degree in Food Science from University of Arkansas, USA and a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from University of Alexandria in Egypt.

Joan Mutoni

Joan is an Access to Nutritious Food Fellow, a nutritionist and environmental management specialist with experience managing humanitarian programmes to prevent malnutrition among people living in refugee camps and organising youth volunteer activities in local communities. In her current role at Gihembe Refugee Camp in Rwanda, she manages a programme that has significantly reduced acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia prevalence among children aged under five in the past three years. Notable achievements initiating a voluntary programme that mobilised the youth in Gatsibo District to construct houses for the elderly and planting 3,000 trees in the area. She holds an MSc. in Environmental Management from Kampala International University in Uganda.

Food Entrepreneurship Fellows

Ms. Paula Mutesi

Paula is Food Entrepreneurship Fellow and a digital financial technology specialist with experience supporting mobile financial services, customer operations, scheduling and managing client facing systems, and improving policies and processes to execute projects successfully. As the MNO Specialist and digital literacy lead in One Acre Fund, she works with government and non- governmental agencies like UNCDF, telecom companies and aggregators to transform farming across Rwanda. Her notable achievements include having been part of the team that launched the first interoperability cross-border e-money exchange with currency conversion in East Africa while working with Tigo Rwanda in 2014. She’s currently pursuing an MBA at the International University of Applied Science in Bad Honnef, Germany.

Uwase Valentine

Valentine is a Food Entrepreneurship Fellow and an agricultural economist with experience in project monitoring and evaluation, research and public speaking. As the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist at Land O’Lakes Venture37 for Cooperative Development Activity 4, she generates and analyses data to guide decision making and evidence-based food system changes. She made a presentation at the African Potato Association Triennial Conference held in Kigali in 2019 and has published a research paper on the ‘patterns and determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption in urban Rwanda’. Notable achievements include working with researchers and seed multipliers on a project which led to the release of five new potato varieties, high yielding, and disease resistant potato varieties. She studied for her degree at the National University of Rwanda.

Kate Ojungo

Kate is a Food Entrepreneurship Fellow, a business management and development specialist with experience building and supporting agricultural value chains in the East Africa. As the Kenya Seed Company Rwanda County Representative, she manages the firm’s seed production, marketing and distribution systems as well as its relations with governments and other stakeholders. She is a member of the National Seed Association of Rwanda and presented a paper on the impact of strong regional seed systems on agricultural productivity and food security during the Regional Seed Trade Meeting for Common Market of East and Southern Africa and East African Community on June 21, 2021, in Kigali. Notable achievements include working with five county governments in Kenya in 2018 to actualise inclusion and equity for the marginalised communities in food systems while serving as the Kenya Seed Company’s regional manager, Western and Nyanza. She holds a MSc. in Development Studies from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and a BA in Business Management from Moi University.

Kelvin Odoobo

Kelvin is a Food Entrepreneurship Fellow, Agriprenuer and Agribusiness Consultant with experience building social enterprises and leading innovations in East and Southern Africa. He is the founder and CEO of Shambapro Limited, an agtech startup that is helping smallholder farmers in Africa access suitable finance without traditional collateral and other value chain services on its digital platform. His notable achievements include helping The Hive Limited, a Kenyan beekeeping startup, to scale and expand to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Malawi. As the Lead Consultant, he also helped H2O Venture Partners to build Ingabo Plant Health, a Rwandan social enterprise that provides solutions for farmers to reduce crop losses, increase crop yields and increase their incomes, and raise £100,000 seed funding from DFID. He holds a BSC in Agriculture from Makerere University.

Janvier Ahimanishyize

Janvier is a Food Entrepreneurship Fellow, an economist and business development specialist with experience designing financial and business models for agricultural, transport and energy projects. At SNV where he is Deputy Team Leader for HortInvest Project in Rwanda, he is helping to coordinate the activities of staff working to strengthen and make the country’s horticultural value chains, including access to markets and finance, inclusive. He also has experience consulting for public investment projects and small businesses. He holds an MBA from Kampala International University, a Master of International Economic and Business Law from Kigali Independent University and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Rwanda.

Sustainable Land Use Fellows

Abdu Usanase

Abdu is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and an award-winning agri-tech innovator. He is the founder and chief executive officer of AGRIRESEARCH, a youth-led non-governmental organisation based in Rwanda that carries out agriculture research and offers extension services. He has experience in farm data management and agriculture development services. He holds a BSc. in Crop Science from the University of Rwanda. His notable achievements include transforming AGRIRESEARCH from a students’ club to a national organisation credited with developing innovative solutions for Rwanda’s agricultural and environmental challenges. AGRIRESEARCH had developed many mobile applications, including SmartInput which was listed among 50 global game-changing innovative projects worldwide by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network in 2020. Its AGRITrials won the best digital extension tool worldwide in a video competition by USAID Feed the Future, Digital Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) Project.

Alexis Rutagengwa

Alexis is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and an urban and regional planning professional with experience in land use planning, survey and geospatial information management as well as land administration operations. In his current role as Head of Land Use Management and Mapping Department at the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority, he oversees, among others, the strategic planning, revision of land policies and laws, and updating of the national basemaps. Notable achievements include working as the project manager for the revision of the National Land-Use and Development Masterplan (2020- 2050), which aims to enhance public access to land use information, improve land use efficiency and ensure 100% national surveying network coverage. He holds an MSc. in Geo- Information Science for Environment and Sustainable Development and a BSc. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Rwanda.

Assumpta Uzamukunda

Assumpta is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and a biodiversity conservation and forest management expert with experience in landscape restoration, landscape governance, sustainable food and agriculture, multi-stakeholder processes, and resource mobilisation. She currently works as a local representative of Wageningen University & Research in the HortInvest Project, Rwanda. Her responsibilities include facilitation of public-private collaboration and consultation, policy and institutional development, capacity building, and technical assistance. She has in the past worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority on landscape governance programmes. Notable achievements include winning the best poster award on “Household use of forest resources and land ownership in communities adjacent to National parks” at the annual Student Conference on Conservation Science in 2012 She holds a BSc. in Biodiversity Conservation from the University of Rwanda and an MA in Forest Management from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.

Francois Hakorimana

Francois is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and a natural resources management specialist with experience in formulating, implementing and monitoring land and water conservation and management measures and impact assessment. As the landscapes manager at Rulindo Landscapes, he has successfully implemented land and water resources management, climate change mitigation and sustainable livelihood projects in different agro-ecological zones of Rwanda. He has built important relationships with different experts, national government agencies and non-governmental organisations. He holds a Master’s of Science degree in International Land and Water Management from Wageningen University and Research Centre, and a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in Soil and Water Management.

Françoise Umarishavu

Françoise is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and an agri-food systems activist and founder of Gold & Green Ltd. She has experience promoting sustainable agriculture, responsible food business and production, and behavioral change through education of individuals, households and communities. She also works as an independent consultant on sustainable agro-food systems with competencies in certification systems auditing, analysis and training on agricultural sustainability standards and Fairtrade. She holds an MSc. in Organic Agricultural Sciences and a BSc. in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness. Notable achievements include documenting and analysing the famous Organic Food System of Mouans-Sartoux in France, as part of the United Nations project which studies the existing sustainable food systems cases around the world.

Petronille Dusingizimana

Petronille is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and biodiversity and climate change specialist with experience in research, consultancy, project management and policy formulation. She is a PhD candidate at the Universite Felix Houphouet Boigny, Cote d’Ivoire and Universite Mohammed VI, Morocco, researching conservation agriculture and climate change in Rwanda. In her past role as a research associate at Alliance CIAT Bioversity International, she coordinated activities and partners on a banana disease management project. The project sought on-ground evidence of the potential of a new technology to manage banana xanthomata's disease in Rwanda. Her achievements include being part of the team, as a consultant at IFPRI, that worked on the Food System Transformative Integrated Policy (FS-TIP) initiative in Rwanda, which will support the development of an ambitious policy plan to achieve sustainable, healthy diets for all citizens. She holds an MSc in Climate Change Adaptation from the University of Nairobi and a BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Dar es Salaam University.

Innocent Bisangwa

Innocent is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and an environmental and climate change specialist with experience in sustainable agriculture advocacy, project coordination, policy development and resource mobilisation. While working for Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) he has been advocating the mainstreaming of climate change in agriculture through a sub-Sector working group (SSWG). He was part of the team that mobilised resources from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), including USD 33.2 Million for strengthening climate resilience of rural communities in Northern Rwanda and USD695,380 for mainstreaming climate-smart planning and implementation into agricultural development. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Soil Sciences from National University of Rwanda and a Master’s degree in Agriculture from Yamagata University.

Esther Ndungutse Mukundane

Esther is a Sustainbale Land Use Fellow and an agriculture expert with experience managing cooperatives, livelihoods, value chains and women economic empowerment programmes. In her current role as the Country Director at Aspire Rwanda, she oversees programmes geared towards the improvement of livelihoods of women and youth. Her notable achievements include setting up and serving as the first country director of Sustainable Harvest Rwanda, an NGO promoting the inclusion of smallholder women coffee farmers in the entire value chain. She also organised the first “Let’s Talk Coffee Rwanda“ Conference that attracted senior government officials, retailers, NGOs and roasters from Europe and the US to discuss challenges and opportunities for smallholder farmers in the coffee value chain. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Makerere University and is a Hubert. H. Humphrey leadership fellow of agriculture and rural development at Cornell University.

Thacien Munyamahame

Thacien is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow and development communication specialist with experience inspiring young people to embrace sustainable agriculture and become change-makers in the agri-foods sector. An agronomist, he has worked on projects coordinating training and coaching programmes for farmer oganisations, facilitating stakeholder engagement and building networks. As the country manager of the YALTA Initiative in Rwanda (Youth in Agroecology Business Learning Track in Africa), he manages programmes that support young agripreneurs to apply agroeconological principles and embrace co- creation in their businesses. He holds a BSc. in Agriculture from the National University of Rwanda.

Juvenal Kabagambe

Juvenal Kabagambe is a Sustainable Land Use Fellow, innovator and entrepreneur with a passion for agricultural and community transformation. He is the founder and managing director of Urban and Rural Farming Development Company Ltd and co-founder of Real Green Transformer Company to champion sustainable land uses for healthy food production, job creation and environment protection. He has extensive experience in farm planning and management, sustainable food gardening services, designing small-scale irrigation technologies and development of postharvest tools and machines. Juvenal has won several innovation awards, including the best innovator during the National 14th Agricultural Show in 2019, postharvest innovation (dryer and cold room) competition for reducing postharvest losses in Rwanda (2018-2019), and best innovation exhibitor (drying machine) for food and nutrition security assurance in 2015.