In autumn 2015 just under 700 Starbucks stores across the UK were taken over by cow print, as they rallied behind a nationwide campaign to provide poor Rwandan farmers with life-changing cows.

The Big Cow Project set each store on a mission to raise £650 – the equivalent of a dairy cow which can enhance the lives of poor farmers in Rwanda, a country where 60% of the population live below the poverty line.

This fundraising campaign was the brainchild of Starbucks Bolton-based shift supervisor, Aaron Swift, who visited Rwanda in 2014 on the Starbucks’ Origin Experience (photo on the left). During his four days in the country, Aaron saw first-hand the difference a cow makes to families and farmers in Rwanda, and explains: 

“I saw how these cows help improve coffee productivity, they provide organic fertiliser, improve household income and nutrition from the milk they produce, and they reconcile community relationships. These cows really are changing lives.”


Having witnessed a ‘pass on’ ceremony, where farmers gift their first calf to a neighbour, Aaron was touched by how benefits were shared across entire communities, helping to restore respect, pride and heal the wounds of war and genocide.

Aaron returned home inspired to leave his mark on Rwanda through his ‘Cow Project’. With a vision to transform the lives of 10 families with 10 cows, he set out to fundraise for Send a Cow. Through his passion he engaged 50 Starbucks stores across the North West to get behind his campaign, and they quickly smashed their target, successfully raising £7,500 for Send a Cow – the equivalent of 11 dairy cows.

It is thanks to Aaron’s energy and enthusiasm that The Big Cow Project expanded to almost 700 stores in autumn 2015. 

The UK Government pledged to match pound for pound all donations made to Send a Cow before December 31 2015! Yes, that’s right, the impact will span two coffee growing countries. This means the amount The Big Cow Project raises from the UK will be doubled – support for rural Rwandan communities will be matched to support Send a Cow’s work with communities in Ethiopia too.

Do you want to help? Support The Big Cow Project and smallholder farmers in Rwanda by visiting your local Starbucks and donate in store, or use the links below to donate online today.