Our Founder

Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian

Driven by her dream to help her native country, Burundi, Jeanine founded Burundi Friends International (BFI) in 2007 with a small group of women from the Newman Center Catholic Community at UC San Diego with whom she went on retreat. Having grown up in Burundi, Jeanine understood how fortunate she was to have had the chance to study in the U.S. She made the most of that opportunity, receiving a B.S degree with a double major in International Business and Marketing from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and an executive MBA from J.L. Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. Her desire was to help others, particularly the women and youth in her country, to have access to education, and to attain some level of financial independence that would allow them to invest in their families, their communities, and to begin to build dreams of their own.

Under Jeanine’s leadership, BFI has focused on creating opportunities for thousands of Burundians in the areas of education and economic empowerment. The result of her 12 years of direction has been the emergence of youth and women as community leaders, each in service to their fellow citizens.

In 2012, Jeanine expanded her dream to make a difference for Burundians by founding JNP Coffee, a company specializing in high quality coffees grown by the people of Burundi, her people. Today the company is known for its award-winning specialty coffees, as well as for the knowledge they share with growers, and the good works and leadership they provide at origin.

Truly a role model for what a Burundian woman can achieve in her country, Jeanine continues to advance the global specialty coffee industry as a licensed Q grader. Through her Specialty Coffee business, she pursues strong producer partnerships, knowledge sharing, gender equality, and access to education in financial literacy and leadership, all to empower the farmers and their families in Burundi.

Today, more than 2,000 women and their families benefit from JNP Coffee’s premium payment program – rewards for their high quality coffee that pay for their children’s education, improve their farms, and enable them to save money for the first time in their lives.

Although Jeanine is no longer an active BFI Board Member, she remains very close to the organization as a BFI Advisor, and we continue to be inspired by her commitment that “we are all here to make a difference.”

Burundi Friends International

Burundi Friends International (BFI) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. We invite you to contact us to volunteer and join in our work to end poverty and create self-sustaining opportunities for Burundi, or donate to support BFI’s mission.