Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meet Our Keynote Speakers: Dr. Nicholas Hitimana

Have we mentioned how excited we are about our first national conference Welcome tothe Circle - A Global Movement for Community Healing? We’re thrilled to have a group of world-changing speakers flying in for October’s event. You’ll have to race us to the front row to hear the informative and inspiring keynote speeches.

This week, it is our great privilege to introduce you to a dear friend of Thistle Farms, a visionary social entrepreneur and the person who is traveling the farthest to be with us for the conference: Dr. Nicholas Hitimana.

Dr. Nicholas Hitimana & Rev. Becca Stevens, with Thistle Farms Geranium Spray.

What can you expect to hear?
Nicholas will be sharing his experiences with agribusiness, social enterprise work and his vision for changing the global value chain.

A bit of his inspiring story…
In 2005, Nicholas founded Ikirezi, a community-interest business that partners with farming cooperatives in Rwanda to produce geranium oil for local and international markets. 80% of the members are orphans and widows of the genocide. During a 2008 trip to Rwanda, a team from Thistle Farms formed a relationship with Ikirezi and a social partnership was born. Thistle Farms began purchasing the organic geranium oil that is now featured in several of our products including the bestselling natural bug repellent, Geranium Spray.

In the 1990s, Nicholas was working for the Ministry of Agriculturein Rwanda when the genocide began to unfold. He fled to Europe in 1994 and subsequently received graduate degrees in Rural Development and Applied Entomology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He returned to Rwanda in 2001 and began his work with widows and orphans. He also founded the Village ofHope with 25 homes for widows and orphans and is Chairman of the Rwandan Agricultural Board.

Last year, during a visit to Nashville, Nicholas talked about the imbalance of the value chain in this world and how producers are usually at the bottom. He believes that by creating successful alliances between social enterprises, the profit share for producers will be increased. His narrative inspired Becca Stevens’ vision for the Shared Trade Alliance, which will be launched at the conference. We’ll be telling you more about it in the weeks to come so stay tuned.

Click HERE to visit Ikirezi. For more information about Thistle Farms’ First National Conference or to register go to or contact

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