Apio uses coffee business to support mothers

Peace Apio 

What you need to know:

Peace Apio buys coffee from local farmers, from which she makes products such as facial scrub for the skin, coffee cakes and briquettes. She also skills young mothers facing the challenges of early motherhood. 

At the age of 16, Peace Apio was forced to drop out of school because she discovered she was pregnant. Neither her teachers nor her parents wanted to accommodate her. While her peers were preparing to sit O-Level examinations, she was wandering where to go.

At that point, Apio and her boyfriend were not sure of what to do with the pregnancy. 

“I thought of abortion. But I was afraid of taking a life and mine in the process of abortion. I feared society, friends, especially my family would judge me harshly,” she recalls.

As she was still contemplating on the next move, her boyfriend too abandoned her and wanted nothing to do with her.

She says it was hard to even find food to eat because she was unemployed and society ridiculed her.

“I lived as a neglect, a curse and girls were kept away from me for fear of negatively influencing them,” she says.

But the pity parties would not put food on her table. She knew she had to work very hard to support her baby. She went on a job hunt and was lucky to be hired by Social Innovation Academy (SINA) in Mpigi District, where she acquired different skills.

“I gained confidence to face my fears, I learnt how to turn my challenges into an opportunity, how to create ideas from scratch to powerful businesses and non violent communication,” she says.

Birth of a business idea

At SINA, Apio was accommodated as she studied. As her child grew, she was mentored by the academy as she revised for Senior Four examinations.

In Mpigi, there are many coffee farmers and one of the ideas she thought was to start a business in coffee. She approached different coffee farmers, conducted research and presented to SINA. The institution funded her business idea.

In an environment that cherished innovation, Apio honed her business skills. The academy’s curriculum equipped her with the knowledge and necessary tools to bring the vision to life. Through mentorship and hands-on training, she gained confidence and discovered her true potential in business. 

Apio chose to work with young mothers because they are a circle of people that is regarded as outcast by society, family and loved ones.

“I want young mothers to have the person I needed when I was going through the dark moments,” she says.

Left: Apio gives one of the farmers coffee seedlings. 

In 2018, Apio established Afri-coffee in Mpigi District.

“I took a leap of faith even when my rent was problematic to collect, it was a risk I was willing to take,” she says.

She first purchased five kilogrammes of coffee beans (about Shs3, 000 each) from nearby farmers, took it for processing, packaged it in 500g bags and started selling. There were many foreigners coming to the school and she sold to them, too. They liked it and started buying her coffee.

Apio then started purchasing raw coffee from nearby farmers, dried it herself because it was expensive to buy already processed one, and took it to the factory for sorting, roasting and packaging.

“I had it packaged in normal white polythene bags because I could not afford the fancy coffee bags,” she says.

With the knowledge she acquired from her mother, a tailor, she designed a unique packaging for the coffee out of African fabric -kitenge. The blend of both Robusta and Arabica coffee drew more clients to her business.

Apio buys coffee from local farmers. From coffee, aside from making it for drinking, she also makes different products such as facial scrub for the skin, coffee cakes and briquettes from coffee husks used as charcoal for cooking and reselling. She also exports coffee to countries such as Germany, Netherlands, USA and Italy only for home use in small quantities.

Multiple coffee outlets

As a businesswoman, she spends time analysing market trends, negotiating deals, planning and searching for networking opportunities.

Over the years, Apio’s coffee business has transformed from a small café to multiple locations in prime areas, attracting a loyal customer base.

“My coffee brand has gained recognition beyond local borders, securing distribution deals and partnerships with national and international retailers,” she says.

Afri-Coffee later morphed into a social enterprise that supports young mothers. Afri is derived from two words; Africa and coffee, hence Afri-coffee.

“Afri-Coffee is based on my life story grounded from teenage motherhood,” she says.

Above: Peace Apio with school children, showcase her branded coffee. PHOTOs/promise twinamukye

She got her first store at Kaleke Kasome Foundation of Maurice Hasa.

“He would often come to the academy and I started going to his foundation to meet different people, especially young mothers,” she says. 

From distributing the coffee to individuals, today Apio supplies coffee houses. She plans to own her coffee house, where she can customise selling her own coffee to customers.

 She says more efforts are needed in the production chain in order to own an established coffee plant of her own.


Apio believes the women she works with are now more confident and have a source of livelihood. Some use their earnings to support their families, while others procure scholastic materials for their children to go back to school.

Besides Afri-coffee, Apio empowers girls with skills they can use when they are not working in the coffee business.

“The youngest girl I have worked with was 13 years old. After delivering, she went back to school and last year, she completed A-Level. Apart from the small things we could give her, she got a sponsor who paid her school fees,” she adds.

Apio says she tours different villages mainly for coffee related business and talks to girls, helps them learn to work and sustain their children.


“Whatever happens, it is not the end of it. You can still pick yourself up and become a useful person. Learn to take risks. There are many opportunities out there. Try out something, even if it scares you because that is where you will figure out your strengths. Love your babies because they are a blessing. There is no wrong timing and that may have happened for a reason,” she says.

“People should accept young mothers and help them face their challenges. So they can do more with their lives, and the babies they have,” she adds.

Future of Afri-coffee

“I see Afri-coffee as one of the biggest organisations that supports a large number of teenage mothers,” she says. Apio has skilled 36 young mothers facing the challenges of early motherhood. Through her programme, she offers access to education, childcare assistance and emotional support to teenage mothers.  “These young mothers have not only embraced their roles as caregivers but have also pursued their own personal and professional goals,” she adds.  She, however, notes that the increasing demand for assistance programme has outpaced resources. Limited space and resources have made it challenging to provide support to young mothers.