The Wood Foundation Africa (TWFA), in conjunction with its funding partners, is now considered the leading philanthropist in the tea industry in East Africa. In Rwanda TWFA is helping to achieve systemic and sustainable change for the tea industry through its Imbarutso project and now works in partnership with 17,000 smallholder tea farmers.
Launched in 2011 in joint funding partnership with the Gatsby Foundation, “Imbarutso” – the Kinyarwandan word meaning “to catalyse” is the second TWF programme in Sub Saharan Africa. An initial six-year project to bolster competitiveness of the tea industry in Rwanda and to ensure that smallholders benefit from its growth, Imbarutso works with government, the private sector, cooperatives, and smallholder farmers to improve smallholder productivity and boost farmers’ margins.
Through their regional philanthropic investment vehicle, East African Tea Investments (EATI), TWFA and Gatsby acquired majority shares in the previously government-owned Mulindi and Shagasha tea factories in partnership with over 10,000 smallholder farmers who supply both factories. The longer-term vision is to develop the first smallholder-owned tea factories in Rwanda and this will happen when EATI recovers their share capital and the farmers meet agreed KPI’s on governance and management skills. The factories now produce over 6,000 tonnes of made tea, some 23% of Rwanda’s total tea production.
In partnership with Gatsby, Unilever, The UK Department of International Development (DFID), and the smallholder tea farmers of the Kibeho and Munini districts, TWF is embarking on an ambitious greenfield development covering approximately 4,200 hectares for the smallholder tea farmers in the Nyaruguru District of Southern Rwanda.
Nyaruguru Services Company (NSC) will be established to plant out smallholder tea as well as to provide finance, agronomic and production logistics. The investment will have significant systemic impact on the sector and direct benefit for up to 6,000 smallholder tea farming families, providing 75% of the team supply for Uniliver’s new factory.
The Government in Rwanda is committee to majority-supplied smallholder tea factories as part of their greenfield development strategy. This model will provide an innovative example on how to address a smallholder tea greenfield development, which requires significant upfront capital and a long-term investment horizon.
Imbarutso programme in numbers
The Mulindi and Shagasha factories’ contribution to Rwanda total tea production.
The number of farmers to have been trained by end of 2018 at Mulindi and Shagasha.
Kibeho/Munini programme in numbers
Project funded by TWFA, Gatsby, Unilever and DFID.
The number of smallholder tea farmer families supported.