Blue Marble Ice Cream has 'dream' of store in Rwanda
Jennie Dundas, left, and Alexis Miesen, own Blue Marble Ice Cream. (Alana Abel)
By Jessica Troiano
Most New York storeowners with dreams of going global envision new shops in, say, London, Paris, Tokyo, maybe Dubai. Brooklyns Blue Marble Ice Cream is set on Rwanda.
A year ago, owners Alexis Miesen and Jennie Dundas created a business that matched their values: The store uses dairy from organic-grass-fed cows and biodegradable cups and spoons. A location in Kigali, Rwanda, would fit with the shops social mission that is as essential a component of the business as the cream.
We really want to make a bridge between our community and the community over there, said Dundas.Dairy farming is widespread in the East African nation, but ice cream is nonexistent.
There is this abundant natural resource in Rwanda, Miesen said. Dairy is one of the chief pathways for growing the economy.
A Rwandan artist and activist, Odile Gakire Katese, inspired the idea of bringing Blue Marble to her homeland. Katese met Dundas, who is also an actor, at a theater workshop in Utah, where they discussed their mutual interests of ice cream and dairy farming.
For Katese, ice cream served as a symbolic sweet gesture in a country that only 14 years ago suffered from civil war and genocide, Dundas said. E-mails to Katese, who is in Rwanda, were not returned in time for this article.
She said that things in our country are so hard for so many people, and that we are never going to solve all of our problems in our lifetime, said Dundas. But she believes in the power of the positive in peoples lives. For her, ice cream is a symbol of a moment of joy.
Miesen and Dundas launched Blue Marble Dreams, a nonprofit to support the overseas venture. They are one-third of the way toward their fundraising goal of $100,000, they said. The owners and Matt White, Blue Marbles ice cream maker, said they would travel to Rwanda in February for a three-week fact-finding mission.
Small businesses dont have to have only a small local impact, Miesen said. They can make a difference in a community very far from their own.