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Digital Remittances Can Help Revive Economy

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In March last year, Covid-19 started spreading so fast conquering countries and triggering global panic. Countries disconnected and locked down as people retreated in their homes waiting for disaster to strike.

Masking, washing hands, keeping a distance and vaccinating have become a universal norm under this pandemic which has killed 4.96Million people and infected 244Million people around the world.

This pandemic is still causing mayhem although countries have pooled resources, knowledge and technology to at least manage the spread of the deadly virus.

The global economy has been strangled since last year affecting several sectors some of which may take long to recover.

According to data from the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), in March 2020 remittance inflows recorded in Rwanda were U$18.9 million compared to U$22.5 million recorded during the same period in 2019.

Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa registered a 23.1% decline to reach U$37 billion in 2020, while a recovery of 4% is expected in 2021. In 2021, the World Bank estimates that remittances will recover and rise by 5.6 per cent to U$470 billion.

Remittances from the Rwandan Diaspora have a positive impact on economic growth as well as the national development of the country. Thus remittances and development are progressively becoming inseparable areas.

As the global economy reopens, remittances are resuming as most people embrace flawless and contactless methods such as WorldRemit Wallet that allows people in over 150 countries  to send, receive, or store money in a range of currencies using the WorldRemit app. Two million people made a transfer with WorldRemit last year.

Although digitizing is one of the key opportunities that are emerging from the pandemic, there has been a gradual rise in electronic fraud. Local telcos have come up with some solutions aimed at curbing the growing number of mobile money fraudsters.

For example, all mobile money customers have to pre-authorize any withdrawal request by dialing before an agent can send a withdrawal prompt message.

According to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), in mid-June 2020 they received about 80 cases of people whose money was stolen from mobile phones. In these schemes, close to Rwf12 million was stolen.

Since then RIB and telcos have stepped up nationwide campaign raising public awareness on cyber safety and security, especially targeting mobile money wallets which more than half of Rwandans own.

Meanwhile, WorldRemit a new global player uses industry-leading technology that protects money and guarantees it arrives safely every time.

“Over the last ten years, our business has grown to serve 5.7 million customers, using 70 different currencies, across 130 countries worldwide,” says CEO Breon Corcoran.

Breon adds, “We’ve helped millions of children to go to school, helped thousands of people to receive medical treatment and, every week, we help tens of thousands of people to pay their bills.”

WorldRemit  boasts of a diverse team from different cultural and professional backgrounds. With 1000+ employees around the world, there are more than 30 nationalities in the London headquarters alone.

“We also have regional hubs around the world – in the Philippines, the United States, Nigeria, Poland and Cameroon,” says CEO Breon Corcoran.

In Rwanda WorldRemit is represented by WorldRemit (Rwanda) ltd authorised and regulated by the National Bank of Rwanda.

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Kiwi Pay Group Launches Largest Online Marketplace In Sub Saharan Africa

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With millions of product SKUs from various categories and a strategic partnership with Bolloré Logistics, one of the biggest transport and logistics business in Africa, with more than 5,000 employees on the continent, Kiwi Pay Group is ready to launch the biggest online marketplace in Sub Saharan Africa.

Now Singapore-based fintech firm Kiwi Pay Group has been building its newest mobile application in stealth mode for the last few months, and is about to launch it in Cameroon first with a strategic partnership with the french group Bolloré Logistics, allowing them to offer millions of products from European retailers to the African market, with affordable price, local payment methods including credit cards and mobile money, and 4 to 5 days shipping by air to various delivery collection points in the country.

Customers in Cameroon will be allowed to purchase products like books, DVDs, computers, cosmetics, games, appliances and millions of other SKUs through this strategic partnership and thanks to their mobile application in the weeks to come.

Kiwi Pay Group, Bolloré Logistics and the Customs Bureau of Cameroon signed a strategic agreement on Wednesday 4th November 2021 in Douala to officialise their agreement. Before then, Kiwi Pay Group has been signing strategic agreements with different economic zones on the African continent like CEMAC, GIM-UEMOA and others, allowing them to offer transactions in the local currency, FCFA.

“This strategic partnership with Bolloré Logistics and the Customs in Cameroon is allowing us to benefit from the strong growth of the ecommerce in the country, while leveraging from decades of experience from our partners to ensure a trustworthy experience for the customers and compliance with the local tax system” declares FONGOD NUVAGA Edwin, Director General of Customs in Cameroon.

Serge AGNERO, regional manager for Bolloré Transport and Logistics states, “We are thrilled to initiate this strategic partnership in Cameroon and the region with an experienced player such as Kiwi Pay Group, to allow millions of local customers to benefit from attractive prices from retailers in Europe, and be able to order quickly and securely the products they are looking for, delivered at their place within a few days with our smooth service.”

Earlier this year, Kiwi Pay Group also launched its token KGO, that will be used as a way to reward users of the app, on all sides, vendors, drivers and customers, to allow them to hold it and use it later on for benefits on their e-commerce platform.

The company plans to push the token rewarding process as soon as they launch their e-commerce platform in Cameroon and other markets in the upcoming few months.

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How AGRA’s Financial Support Made His Quality Seed Company A success

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Back in 2018, Protais Musanganya, the CEO and owner of Top Quality Seed Company came into contact with Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) after the agro-based company visited farmers and their activities in the area Musanganya operated in.

He says when AGRA and Rwanda Agricultural Board visited him they were attracted by his activities of multiplying seeds and due so he was placed in good position to benefit their financial support because he couldn’t get enough capital to fund his agricultural bossiness on the large scale.

However, his projects became a reality when AGRA selected him among the beneficiary of financial boost and as an added opportunity to be trained by RAB.

“AGRA selected me to benefit from its support. Initially, the company helped me to rent more land, pay staff salaries for a whole year and buy inputs. By their support, I also managed to produce 60 sacks of quality seeds from 5 sacks in the past.”

Musanganya started his venture in agriculture back in 2017 using only 3 ha of rented land but now his company multiply seeds on 80 ha land.

He has exploited AGRA’s financial support and bought 35 ha land in Ndego, 20 ha in Ngoma, and the remaining land is in Rwamagana.

He expects to harvest 180 and 200 tons of land this season and When he sold multiplied seeds, he managed to get money and re-invested by buying 50 ha of land from his former landlord. “Then I had to clear 30 ha land. I exploited the land and managed to produce 120 tons of top quality seeds.”

Musanganya produces top quality seeds of maize, soybean and beans.

The government of Rwanda also provided subsidized fertilizers and irrigation equipment through the subsidy program to him and he was linked to buyers.

Musanganya say that AGRA’s funding helped him to boost his activities and sustained his expenditure on the salaries of the employees.

“My company employs between 150 and 200 casual laborers who work on the farms on a daily basis. We pay them their salaries on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The biggest part of the staff salary I pay is from AGRA.”

“My business of seed multiplication is important to local communities as it creates jobs. I also equipped 200 local farmers with skills in seed multiplication and they are now my out growers.” he adds.

He says AGRA’s financial support worth 100 Million Rwandan Francs said surmounted far the value of the money he benefited.

“This support largely exceeds that amount of money I got. As I said, I started this business renting 3 ha land. Now I own more than 50 ha of land that I purchased with money from AGRA support.”

Despite the Government subsidizes with provision of certified seeds, Musanganya believes hybrid maize farmers need to have skills in the domain and exploit the seeds at their potential.

As a result, he has signed agreements with the out growers whereby he provide them with technical assistance and buys their seeds.

“Thus, our company conduct promotion and extension activities (variety demonstration, distribution of seed packs, etc) to create awareness of new seed varieties and improve crop management.” he says.

Though he has benefited AGRA’s partnership but he wishes the company continue supporting them.

“Our partnership with AGRA is still ongoing as they organize quarterly trainings for our staff, pay agronomists and assist us in the audit of our activities but AGRA should keep helping us to grow into big companies that will carry on activities even when AGRA support is no longer there.” he wishes.

Plans of establishing a seed processing plant

He believes that with the help of the AGRA, they will be able to establish a seed processing plant that will prepare their produce, dry, treat and label our seeds.

“We have made initial steps whereby we bought a plot of land and started negotiating with a company that will construct the plant. We are now at the step of acquiring a bank loan that we will invest as our company’s share in the plant.” he says.

“It will be a joint venture business involving three companies. We hope that by next year our plant will be producing seeds that will be based Kayonza. I am also in talks with irrigation technicians to see how we can expand the irrigated surface using solar powered irrigation systems. They conducted a feasibility study and are now at the costing step. That is the direction that we are giving to our business with the support of AGRA.” he adds.

“As the manager of Top Quality Seed Production, considering where we came from and where we are today, I believe that our investment will have increased three fold by next year. I wish the support from AGRA is maintained because I have made tremendous progress. Of course I am making profits but I am also happy that farmers have access to locally produced seeds.”

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German, Rwanda Sign € 8.666m to Support Exporters

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Rwandan exporters that had suspended their activities due to the grinding effects of covid-19 pandemic, now have reason to smile following a new financing opportunity that will revive their activities.

According to details German and Rwanda have today signed a financing deal worth 8.666million for the expansion of the long-term refinancing line for on-lending to export-oriented Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The signing involved the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) represented by Chief Financial Officer Vincent Ngirikiringo and Minister Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Finance, Honorable Ambassador Dr. Thomas Kurz of the Federal Republic of Germany alongside Rwanda’s Minister of State, Richard Tusabe.

“The purpose of this financing is to support Rwandan Exporters who have postponed their planned exports investments due to the economic impact of COVID-19 by providing them with affordable long-term loans under the Export Growth Fund (EGF),” the presser reads in part.

This financing will empower exporting Small and Medium Enterprises to exploit the recent re-opening of foreign markets. Indeed, EGF replenishment will provide for BRD to provide affordable additional capital to a unique opportunity to enable local partner Financial Institutions (PFIs) to serve exporting SMEs’ thereby creating employment opportunities to more skilled workers.

Since the inception of the Export Growth Fund in 2016, BRD has operationalized the EGF by providing affordable loans directly to SMEs and through participating Commercial Banks.

With the support of the German Government through KFW, 34 projects have benefited from the fund through 5 partner Public Financial Institutions (PFIs), with total loans approved amounting to approximately EUR 12 million.

These approved loans are distributed in different sectors including textile, essential oils, horticulture, coffee, pharmaceuticals, tea, food products, and minerals.

Compared to 2020, loans extended to exporting SMEs as percentage of the total commercial loan portfolio increased by 8%; average revenue of these SMEs grew by 20% along with an average export revenue growth of 40%.

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