Technical assistance to Unguka Bank (Rwanda) in Agribusiness Finance
Of the things FRIENDS Consult is known for, technical assistance for inclusive finance stands out. This includes agricultural finance, digital channel access for market penetration, housing microfinance, clean/ renewable energy finance, and green finance. FCL has worked with private and public sector clients to improve agricultural finance offerings in several countries including Uganda, Rwanda and Gambia. One such assignment was with Unguka Bank Rwanda.
In 2018, Access to Finance Rwanda contracted FRIENDS Consult to help Unguka Bank in streamlining and strengthening the delivery of financial solutions to its clientele engaged in the agricultural value chain. The process involved technical assistance, in a series of related strategic activities, including market research, institutional diagnostic, product reviews/refinement, training and coaching to improve client business capabilities, established the Agribusiness Credit unit within the bank, and training to the bank’s staff in agribusiness finance.
The first logical step was market research that would inform later development and refinement of agri-financial products. The market research was done country-wide, as were the farmer and agribusiness trainings.
The market survey was done between January and March 2018, while the overall project ran from January to December 2018. The project was executed through a country-wide comprehensive market study to inform product development improvements, farmer/ entrepreneur training materials development, structuring of the Agribusiness Finance Unit at the bank, and related activities.
The newly established Agricultural Credit Unit was tasked and mandated to manage the institution’s agricultural credit, and to grow it from 10% to 20% of the overall loan portfolio. The market research report enabled the bank’s Board of Directors, management, and other stakeholders to better understand the key features of agri-finance products that would attract high market uptake. Such features were used for refining the bank’s then existing products and developing new ones.
The insights from the market survey and institutional diagnostic informed the execution of downstream work, which according to the client was useful in boosting the gri-finance business.
The project’s beneficial outcomes were many, including the following:
- More rural Rwandans gained access to reliable agricultural finance to boost their farming and related agribusinesses.
- The follow-on tailored training and mentorship helped Rwandans in the agri-business value chain to adopt better production, harvesting, processing, and marketing practices, improving their household incomes and livelihoods.
- Unguka Bank boosted its business through offerings to the agribusiness sector
Article by Keren Obara – Project Officer FCL.