Alexis and Jennie’s dream was to start a business that made taste buds happy and hearts feel good.
In 2007, their dreams were realized and the doors to NYC’s beloved Blue Marble Ice Cream were opened. Two years into their ice cream adventure, Blue Marble Dreams was founded, a nonprofit initiative to support the joy and prosperity of communities in need through the unlikely medium of ice cream.
The new social venture was prompted by a most unexpected requestâ to help a group of women in Butare, Rwanda open up their very own ice cream shop. Behind this request was a special Rwandan woman named Odile Gakire Katese (or Kiki, as she is affectionately called). In her reasoning, here’s what Kiki 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 wounds inflicted during the country’s devastating genocide.
The women Kiki had in mind to lead the shop were the members of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first and only all-women drumming troupe, open to women from both sides of the conflict. There was only one requirement: leave the categories of the past at the gate.
Kiki created this group in an effort to bring women across ethnic lines and into a special circle that promoted friendship, creative expression and fun.
Inspired by Kiki’s idea, Alexis and Jennie signed on and launched Inzozi Nziza (Sweet Dreams in English) in June, 2010. Since then, they’ve 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.
Inzozi Nziza is off to a very successful start and this group of women is still dreaming! Plans for expansion are in the works and with this AWB grant, Blue Marble Dreams is developing a meal subscription program for the many University of Rwanda students who frequent the ice cream shop.
“Because of our history,” Kiki says, “people know how to fight against, but not for. We want to change that equation.” Stay connected with Blue Marble Dreams and Inzozi Nziza. Watch their story here and stay up to date via their Facebook page and Twitter channel.