Company Profile,History and Ethos
Stevia History and Background
Stevia is a zero-calorie natural non-GMO (non-genetically modified) sweetener and is rapidly gaining acceptance as the only natural product with the capacity to achieve scale in reducing the sugar or calorie content in mainstream food and drinks yet maintaining their desired sweet taste. Stevia has been used as a sweetener for several hundred years originally by the Paraguay Indians and was first commercialized in the far East in the middle of the last century. Stevia has been tested extensively by food and drug regulatory authorities and is registered for sale as a sweetener in almost all major markets globally as well as a significant number of smaller or emerging markets.
Stevia Life Sweeteners Ltd History
Stevia Life Sweeteners Ltd. is the single authorized entity to grow and produce Stevia in Rwanda and was registered on the 21st January 2016. It is the successor of the failed Stevia Life enterprise, which was founded in 2011 after an investment drive by the Rwandan Development Board which resulted in some Canadians agreeing to invest. Early in 2016, new shareholders were found, and they took over the assets and land leases of Stevia Life and began operations as Stevia Life Sweeteners. They bought fresh energy and drive and looked to upscale operations. In mid-2017 additional capital was supplied by another new shareholder.
Stevia in Rwanda
In Rwanda, which is located just South of the equator in East Africa, the conditions for year-round production of stevia are ideal with the right amount of heat, rainfall and sunshine. Consequently, Stevia Life Sweeteners invested heavily in increasing yields via putting in irrigation, drainage and processes for drying the leaf quickly as well as adding timely farm management.
The Farms and Workers
Stevia Life Sweeteners has two main farms totaling approximately 146 hectares. One of the farms of approximately 100 hectares is located in Ngoma Sector, Rulindo District, Northern Province and the other of approximately 46 hectares is located in Nyamugali Sector, Kirehe District, Eastern Province. Stevia Life Sweeteners has also started contracting out-growers to grow stevia. Stevia Life Sweeteners has approximately 300 permanent employees and depending on work demand will have up to an additional 200 seasonal labourers. The majority of workers are women.
Farming Techniques and Social Impact and Ethos
The company is currently focused on and committed to producing stevia profitably with the responsible use of any fertilizer and crop protection products and with minimum tillage and impact on the environment. Traceability, sustainability, responsibility, integrity, and profitability are the pillars of the company ethos.
Given the labour intensive nature of stevia production, Stevia Life Sweeteners has a very significant positive social impact in the areas it operates. It looks to provide a stable income for families through permanent employment, a fixed monthly bonus which is saved by workers and used when in need and health insurance.
Stevia Life Sweeteners aspires to attain access to and the standards acceptable in first world markets and in doing so provide employment and investment in the developing world.
In order to help sustainability, Stevia Life Sweeteners is currently trailing Organic Stevia and will diversify into other organically grown crops soon.