Bank of Kigali has expanded its digital financing product- IKOFI to coffee farmers as a way of financially transforming the lives of Rwandans especially rural farmers in the country. Built in 2019, IKOFI was initially introduced as a financial facility that enables farmers to build a saving profile which enables them to access timely agriculture micro loans to purchase agricultural requirements such as fertilizers, seeds and other needs.
The digital financial product also helps farmers to send and receive money free of charge (zero transaction fee), anytime, to anyone, anywhere in Rwanda using their phones and conveniently pay for other online services like Irembo, RRA, WASAC among others.
The product was re-launched on Friday, September 10th with free phones distribution to farmers at a ceremony held in Karenge sector, and attended by BK and RWACOF officials, Ministry of ICT and Innovation, National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), and the provincial Governor.
Currently, 1,767 agro dealers and 263,691 farmers are active IKOFI wallet users benefiting from the service by digitally paying for their agro-inputs through mobile phones. Bank of Kigali CEO, Dr. Diane Karusisi said that by re-launching IKOFI, this will bring in more coffee farmers into the family of those who are already enjoying its benefits which drives national goals of tech and financial inclusion.
“Through our partnership with RWACOF, Bank of Kigali enabled coffee farmers to embrace cashless means of payment. At Bank of Kigali, we believe in digital transformation for everybody including farmers. We are confident that the 11,000 telephones given to coffee farmers today will significantly improve their daily activities hence allowing them to adopt a more digital lifestyle” said Dr. Diane Karusisi, Bank of Kigali CEO.
Agriculture Financing Boost:
On agricultural financing which is relatively at 6% in the country due to lack of trust by financial institutions, Karusisi said that financial information and transactions which will be collected on the bank’s data system will be ground for offering easy and quick loans.
“When a farmer is paid through their IKOFI account, we will be able to use his financial history to offer financial loans so that farmers can develop and financially transform their lives”.
Max Veglio, the Managing Director of RWACOF Exports said that access to technology and finance with zero charges on farmers will be key in improving the performance of coffee farmers.
“We are glad that Bank of Kigali took part in this partnership that benefits farmers and we believe that it will improve smallholder farmers’ lives,” Veglio said.
Angelos Munezero, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation Public Sector Digitalisation Analyst, said that BK’s efforts are enhancing the country’s target to reach 100% access to financial services by 2024 but also the new Connect Rwanda agenda of ensuring all citizens have phones.
NAEB Chief Operations Officer Sandrine Urujeni said the information and data collected through IKOFI will enable government and stakeholders to find solutions for farmers’ challenges.
The Eastern Province Governor, Emmanuel Gasana told farmers that they should use this opportunity to lead the coffee sector transformation as a way of supporting the government’s efforts in improving agriculture.