In 2005, Dr Hitimana founded Ikirezi with the intention of addressing poverty in rural areas in Rwanda. Ikirezi defines itself as a community-interest business. It is an organization that “achieves its primary social mission using business methods, through revenue-generating business.”
Ikirezi’s vision statement is to be “a leading producer of high-quality essential oils and other natural plant products that maximize profits to small farmers, [and] holistically transforms communities and strengthens agribusiness in Rwanda.”
The goals of Ikirezi are to recognize every individual’s dignity, holistically impact communities, sustainably transform communities, and strategically collaborate with institutions and individuals to achieve a common vision. Additionally, Dr. Hitimana believes that in order to empower farmers and provide an economic solution to poverty, Ikirezi needs to value grace, humility, and compassion.
At present, Ikirezi works with four cooperatives at four different sites in Rwanda, employing more than one hundred farmers directly and more during the peak seasons.
In accordance with Ikirezi’s vision to combine sustainable and best business practices with a social purpose, Ikirezi’s shareholders are committed to utilizing net profits in order to (I) provide a dividend to farmers’ associations/cooperatives, (ii) reinvest in strengthening the core business, (iii) expand operations into new products or territory, or (iv) provide infrastructure projects to participating communities.
Ikirezi’s essential oils can be purchased in small vials and in larger quantities by the litre. Other products for retail include geranium roll-ons, sprays and mists, and clay pots used for diffusing the oils. Domestic orders for Ikirezi products are made to the main office in Kigali via email, in person, or by phone, while international orders in commodity form are made electronically. The product is then packaged and shipped to the customer.