Kigali_Rwanda: Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR), a Rwandan company focused on stimulating financial sector development, has earmarked 1.2 billion Rwandan francs for the automation of non-Umurenge SACCOs and Micro Financial Institutions (MFIS) in the country.
This initiative, which is aimed at improving efficiencies in the provision of financial service to the low income people, will be implemented in partnership with the Association of Micro Finance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR).
As part of the project implementation, a total grant worth 190 million Rwandan francs was on Monday, June 5, 2017 officially extended to five tea growers SACCOs across the country. These include; Pfunda Tea Farmers and Workers Savings and Credit Cooperative, Gatare Tea Farmers Savings and Credit Cooperative, Cooperative D’epargne Et De Credit Des Travailleurs De La Sorwathe, Amizero SACCO Gisakura, and Cooperative De Solidarite Des Theiculteurs Cyohoha-Rukeri (CSTCR).
According to the AFR Country Director, Ms. Waringa Kibe, the systems automation of the Tea SACCOs in particular will significantly contribute towards deepening the usage and adoption of financial services because the sector employs a significant number of people. In addition, she noted that digital initiatives would greatly improve the tea growers’ experience in usage of financial services. A automated systems would improve the speed and efficiency in the SACCO’s management and customer service delivery.
“With the current situation, tea growers experience delay in receiving payments (10-20 days after the payment), because SACCO’s use manual system and it is very difficult for it to handle the volume of transactions manually”, explained the Country Director.
She also noted that the automation of financial service delivery would also improve SACCOs as a business, whilst explaining that “Many a time SACCOs incur losses during the payment process due to errors in recording transactions. They also experience delay in managing financial statements as well as challenges in other areas of management.”
Mr. Peter Rwema, the Executive Director at the Association of Micro Finance Institutions in Rwanda (AMIR), also echoed that the numbers attached to the tea sector present enormous opportunity to heighten financial inclusion of the low income earners in underserved areas. He therefore lauded AFR’s initiatives aimed at increasing access to financial services for poor individuals and small and medium enterprises through providing financial technology solutions and other innovations.
The tea sector currently provides direct employment for about 70,000 people and several thousand more are hired as casual workers during the tea season. The figures speak volumes, and signal a market growth opportunity for financial development programs and initiatives” Mr. Rwema was quoted as saying.