The Bank of Kigali has committed to providing Sh17.9 billion worth of loans to farmers and businesses across the agricultural value chain.
A portion of the funding will be provided at a concessionary interest rate of as low as 8% per annum, which is less than half of the average lending cost of between 16% and 18%.
The Bank of Kigali CEO, Dr. Diane Karusisi, said the funds, to be disbursed over the next five years, are intended to accelerate the ongoing transformation from subsistence to commercial farming in Rwanda and across East Africa.
BK Group is listed on both the Rwanda Stock Exchange and the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
“The agriculture sector is heavily underfunded yet it comprises the biggest portion of our GDP. This fund is expected to scale up commercialization of farming by providing affordable loans to farmers and agribusinesses,” said Dr Karusisi.
Banking data in Rwanda shows the agriculture sector accounts for only about 7% of the industry loan book, yet it comprises 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The absence of reliable financial data has been a major hindrance to the flow of funding to the agricultural sector, as banks lack tools to assess farmers’ creditworthiness.
The Bank of Kigali CEO however says this is now gradually changing, as agricultural value chains such as tea, coffee, maize, rice, and dairy become more mature.
Under the Commercialization and De-risking for Agricultural Transformation (CDAT) project, borrowers will get loans at an interest rate of 8% for 90% of the loan applied while the remaining 10% will be advanced at commercial rates.
The second tier, Economic Recovery Fund II(ERFII), will see farmers and agro-processors get 60% of their loan application at 8% and the remaining 40% at market rates.
“There is an option to access full funding at 8% per annum depending on the value chain and the size of the agribusiness,” said Dr Karusisi.
Bank of Kigali reported a 15.1% growth in net profit to KSh7.1 billion for the year ended December 2022.
The profit increase was mainly driven by a 14.5% growth in the loan book to KSh135 billion.