BANK of Kigali's intervention in the agriculture sector dubbed 'Ikofi' -a financial product aimed at increasing farmers' eligibility to access credit- is fast gaining acceptance among local farmers and agro-dealers.
The product which debuted the local market in mid-May this year has so far registered over 150,000 farmers and over 1200 agro-dealers putting the bank on the lead among local agriculture solution providers.
According to Felix Mutangana of Bank of Kigali, the product has faced a positive reception largely driven by the value that the users find with the service.
He noted that a section of new subscribers were joining on recommendation by their colleagues and friends which points to positive service delivery.
"BK Ikofi product has been well received by farmers due to its value proposition. They go on to recommend to open Ikofi massively to everyone," he said.
Ikofi works to bridge a data gap especially among small-scale farmers which previously made most agriculture operations ineligible to credit as lenders often rely on data when lending.
The system has been built to among other things keep track of inputs and investments of the agriculture value chain.
With data that shows the amounts invested throughout an agricultural season, marketing of output, prices and profits, farmers' risks perception would go down consequently creating avenues of lending to farmers.
By providing an avenue through which farmers can receive government subsidies and make payment for farm inputs at agro-dealer outlets, Ikofi is be able to track the investments into a farmer's operations to determine the value of investments.
Ikofi collects data on the outputs of the farm produce, market prices and performance of produce to determine the profitability of the venture.
This introduces the much-needed data to the sector enabling farmers to have a basis and justification of credit sought for agriculture initiatives.
The platform also foresaw loopholes that could derail the process and moved to fix them.
For instance, farmers could take credit claiming their proceeds are meant for agriculture purposes only for them to divert them for other purposes.
Under the Ikofi platform, funds meant for agriculture inputs cannot be diverted or withdrawn for uses other than direct purchase of agro-inputs from dealers.
Mutangana said that clients also have a technical understanding of the product and its operations further driving uptake.
Farmers say that the platform presents an avenue to formally grow their practices they will be able to get credit with little chances of misappropriation of finances and funds.
Aimable Nsengimana, a farmer from Kirehe District told Business Times that for him and his colleagues, the platform presents an opportunity to expand their practices as well as engage in of high value production now that they can secure funding.
Nsengimana said that a number of farmers in his cooperative have subscribed to the service which would further enable them pool funds for further investment.
This is BK's second product targeting the agriculture sector, which will build on impact of the existing one. BK Group under its TecHouse subsidiary runs Smart Nkunganire System.
Farmers can join IKOFI by dialing *334*2#, upon which they will enter other requirements such as their National Identity card numbers among other instructions.