On Tuesday 12th July 2016, Tigo Rwanda officially presented the ‘Tigo Payment Solution for Agriculture’, the first ever digital payment option for tea farmers in the Rwanda. Tigo’s mobile innovation has provided opportunities to close to 10,000 tea farmers, working in plantations owned by The Wood Foundation (TWF), to access their payments without delay after selling their produce. The ‘Tigo Payment Solution for Agriculture’ was created to provide a seamless solution for the agricultural sector in order to improve the communication and payment streams for local farmers.
The product was created in partnership with ‘Access to Finance Rwanda’ (AFR), The Wood Foundation (TWF), various local area savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) and supported by funding from the TradeMark East Africa Challenge Fund (TRAC).
When the Mulindi and Shagasha tea plantations pay the farmers’ earnings into their Sacco accounts, supported by the technical integration between the Sacco banking platform and Tigo Cash platform, farmers are able to receive their funds on their Tigo Cash wallets on their phones. An SMS notification is sent to a farmer’s handsets informing them that money has reached their Sacco account, they can then go to their local Tigo Cash agent and receive their payment. With this platform, farmers no longer need to travel to their local Saccos and queue in line to receive their payment. For the project to be successful, Tigo had to negotiate the bulk purchase of affordable mobile handsets for over 7,000 farmers who could not afford them.
Explaining how the platform has changed her life, Evangeline Bikorimana, a tea farmer from Gicumbi District, said, “Before Tigo launched this platform, we would wake up extremely early to head to our local Sacco; in fact, we would sometimes sleep in our clothes so that we could leave our homes before daybreak to ensure we arrived at the Sacco ahead of a long queue. Having said this, despite our best efforts, we would often find a huge queue of farmers waiting to receive their salaries, leaving us to return home empty-handed to fulfil family commitments while contemplating a return to the Sacco the next day. The Tigo innovation means that particular typical experience is now history.”
Tigo Rwanda CEO, Philip Amoateng, at the launch event spoke of their innovative integrated value chain solution that improves farmers’ access to finance, which transacts between their bank account/Sacco and their mobile Tigo Cash wallet: “We are proud to have provided a medium for farmers to access their money in a seamless way using Tigo Cash. The platform that we are launching today is only the latest innovation that we have introduced in order to ease the lives of Rwandans while increasing digital and financial inclusion countrywide. Farmers have been severely inconvenienced in the past while trying to secure their payments, but from today the time they spent travelling to their SACCOs to collect their payments has been reduced.”
“We are moving with the Government’s vision and have with this product improved the lives of farmers using technology. Today, our customers can use Tigo Cash to pay their electricity bills, but tomorrow they will be paying their school fees and more. Our aim is to promote a cashless economy and digitalizing all our services. Tigo believes that the agricultural sector is key to unlocking the economic power of mobile finance in Rwandan rural communities. The success of this project can be expanded into a sustainable regional business model that will encompass other value chains besides agriculture”.