Tonight on PoliticKING: Grace Hightower De Niro

Grace Hightower De Niro is an American philanthropist, socialite, actress, and singer. She is married to actor Robert De Niro. In 2013, she founded "Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda" with the mission of improving Rwandan livelihoods by marketing their products internationally.


On tonight's PoliticKING, Grace Hightower De Niro discusses Rwanda and what led her to develop "Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda."

Grace Hightower shares part of her inspirational journey here in a short essay:

We all remember the horrific news reports surrounding Rwanda in 1994. Over the course of 100 days, nearly one million people had been murdered in a historic massacre. In the wake of the gruesome genocide, the future of Rwanda and its people appeared beyond repair.

However, 21 years later, Rwanda’s population continues to prove their resilience and motivation to overcome in spite of their nation’s painful history. Rwanda’s people -- especially its women -- have worked tirelessly to help rebuild their nation and economy one step at a time.

It is this very strength that helps fuel me on a daily basis and serves as a powerful reminder of why I started Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda.

When I met Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a small informal gathering a few years ago, he made poignant remarks that have stayed with me ever since. He spoke about wanting to rebuild a nation of sustainability and that his people wanted “trade, not aid.” Soon after, I learned coffee is one of their main resources, and I decided to plan my first trip to Rwanda.

Upon arriving, the mild climate and slow breeze helped me to realize that I had come to a very special place. They sometimes call it “the land of a thousand hills." I immediately recognized their sincerity and gracefulness. Despite everything they have experienced, their spirit and energy are palpable. I immediately knew I wanted to work with the people in some capacity.

At Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda, we are devoted to helping create a sustainable business and sustainability for the farmers. Our business philosophy is to provide a hand-up versus a hand-out through direct sourcing, fair trade and ethical, environmentally friendly practices. We carry 4 blends of hand-picked, hand-sorted, high quality beans. It is comparable to any high quality coffee out there.

Our vision is to showcase the high quality coffee that Rwanda produces by a diligent and hard working people. They have chosen to consciously move forward with their lives and deserve to be celebrated for their efforts. The women we work with are eager to do business and their willingness to overcome is, in a word, inspiring.

- Grace Hightower 

Photo caption: A Rwanda woman sorts coffee beans for "Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda."

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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