Bank of Kigali has extended its digital finance product – IKOFI to coffee producers in order to financially transform the lives of Rwandans, especially the country’s rural farmers. Built in 2019, IKOFI was initially touted as a financial facility that allows farmers to build up a savings profile that allows them to access agricultural microloans in a timely manner to purchase agricultural products such as fertilizers, seeds. and other needs.
The digital financial product also helps farmers send and receive money for free (no transaction fees), anytime, to anyone, anywhere in Rwanda using their phone and easily pay for other online services like Irembo, RRA, WASAC, among others.
The product was relaunched on Friday, September 10 with free telephone distribution to farmers at a ceremony held in the Karenge area, attended by officials from BK and RWACOF, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) and the provincial governor.
Currently, 1,767 agricultural dealers and 263,691 farmers are active users of the IKOFI wallet who benefit from the service by digitally paying for their agricultural inputs via mobile phones. Bank of Kigali CEO Dr Diane Karusisi said that releasing IKOFI will attract more coffee farmers to the family of those who are already enjoying its benefits, furthering national goals of technological inclusion. and financial.
âThanks to our partnership with RWACOF, Bank of Kigali has enabled coffee producers to adopt cashless means of payment. At Bank of Kigali, we believe in digital transformation for everyone, including farmers. We are convinced that the 11,000 phones offered to coffee farmers today will dramatically improve their daily activities, enabling them to adopt a more digital lifestyle, âsaid Dr Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali.
Acceleration of agricultural financing:
On agricultural finance which is relatively at 6% in the country due to the lack of confidence of financial institutions, Karusisi said that the financial information and transactions that will be collected on the bank’s data system will be a ground for offering quick and easy loans.
“When a farmer is paid through their IKOFI account, we can use their financial history to offer financial loans so that farmers can grow and financially transform their lives.”
Max Veglio, Managing Director of RWACOF Exports, said access to technology and finance at no cost to farmers will be key to improving the performance of coffee producers.
“We are happy that Bank of Kigali has participated in this partnership which benefits farmers and we believe it will improve the lives of small farmers,” said Veglio.
Angelos Munezero, public sector digitization analyst at the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, said BK’s efforts bolster the country’s goal of achieving 100% access to financial services by 2024 , but also the new Connect Rwanda program aimed at ensuring that all citizens have a telephone.
NAEB Director of Operations Sandrine Urujeni said the information and data collected through IKOFI will enable government and stakeholders to find solutions to farmers’ challenges.
Eastern Province Governor Emmanuel Gasana told farmers they should take this opportunity to lead the transformation of the coffee sector to support government efforts to improve agriculture.