Monday, July 29, 2013

Agricultural Finance Program at UOB...

90% of Rwanda's population is directly or indirectly related to agriculture. So, agriculture is a basic economic sector for Rwanda, particularly for the poor people. If our mission is to serve the poor, then it is essential for us to do something about agriculture.

Thus, UOB started offering agriculture finance from 2010. But, due to unexpected government intervention, the program could not produce any results. From 2011, however, UOB started serving the farmers initially with input and production financing. UOB's initial focus was on serving Irish potato, rice and maize farmers for their input and production financing needs.

In 2011, UOB served approximately 1,450 farmers. This number increased to 4,500 in 2012 and in 2013 we aim to serve up to 8,000.

The increase was attributed to the scale up of the tested crops into other geographical areas overcoming the challenges that are coming from inherent risks to the agriculture finance, such as weather risk, disease risk, price risk and regulatory risk on top of credit risk. To make this challenging service possible was the credit recourse through Kiva. Kiva offers an internet-based individual lending platform through which individuals all over the world may be able to lend to the poor in developing countries around the world via micro finance institutions like UOB. They can lend from $25 and when the money is paid back, they may re-lend or ask for repayment. Under this program, UOB may not have to pay back the loan if UOB incurs any loss. UOB is the largest Kiva implementing partner in Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. For more information about, click here   Through this program, UOB was able to mitigate high risks associated with agriculture so that UOB may be able to offer the financing at affordable prices to the farmers.

In 2013, we are exploring the possibility of introducing dairy credits and top up credits to small coffee farmers during their low cash flow season. This way, we may help them avoid side-selling or selling the crops for urgent cash needs at deep discounts before the harvest. The ultimate benefit for farmers will be regularizing their irregular consumption patterns.

UOB was recognized for its genuine spirit of participating in the agriculture finance at the Rwanda Agriculture Show in 2012 and 2013 consecutively.

We praise the Lord for the vision and mandate to serve them in Rwanda and pray that He will continue to provide us with resources and insights to be able to continue serving them without taking excessive risks coming from the agriculture finance. - Jeffrey

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