Scaling up Responsible Digital Payments in the Rwandan Tea Sector

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Scaling up Responsible Digital Payments in the Rwandan Tea Sector (Full Report)


Incorporating the United Nations Principles for Responsible Digital Payments to scale up digital payments in the tea sector can benefit tea farmers and rural communities, especially women, as well as tea value-chain actors and financial service providers (FSPs), while also contributing to sustainable national economic growth.

The tea sector is the third-largest employer in Rwanda, directly employing over 100,000 people, including 50,000 farmers and 50,000 workers and contributing to the livelihoods of around 1 million Rwandans.

Claude Bizimana

“A core theme of the strategic plan under the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) is to develop its capacity on the strategic analytics that will facilitate data-driven decisions. Smart Kungahara System (SKS) forms a part of this strategy and there are plans to introduce it in the tea sector.”
Claude Bizimana, Chief Executive Officer of the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), Rwanda

In 2021, seven of the 18 tea factories were using mobile money solutions, automatic savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), and online/mobile banking systems to pay their farmers. Due to the use of digital payments in these factories, farmers have experienced an 87% reduction in payment timelines, from 4 weeks to 3 days, while factories have benefited from a 10% reduction in worker costs and a 30% increase in productivity. In the tea sector, scaling up responsible digital payments to farmers could result in a saving of $8 million over ten years - funds that could be reallocated to address climate change and other critical issues.

These benefits could bring much wider impact if responsible digital payments were embedded across the whole agricultural sector in Rwanda, with the potential to reach 3.8 million farmers, including 2.1 million women.

Jenny Costelloe

“We are committed to working closely with all stakeholders in the Rwandan tea sector to address the gaps that remain for scaling responsible digital initiatives. In particular we see our engagement with the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) as critical for exploring sustainable and scalable solutions for the tea sector.”
Jenny Costelloe, Executive Director, Ethical Tea Partnership

The proposed approach in this report for scaling digital payments in the Rwandan tea sector builds on the evolving payments ecosystem. It identifies six key areas of action, requiring a multi-stakeholder approach, to ensure farmers are at the center of a responsible and sustainable scale-up of digital payments.