By Bisola Adeyemo
No fewer than five thousand small-scale farmers in Rwanda have been handed ownership of the country’s largest tea factory by British philanthropists.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente on Monday handed over the Mulindi Tea Factory expected to help farmers get more profits from tea sales.
Mulindi Tea Factory becomes the first factory to be fully owned by smallholder farmers, according to information from the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).
The two philanthropic investors had acquired the factory when it was privatised by the Government of Rwanda in 2012.
Following the privatisation of Mulindi Tea Factory in 2012, the Wood Foundation and the Gatsby Foundation through their regional philanthropy joint company, East Africa Tea Investments (EATI), acquired majority shares of 55 percent in Mulindi Tea Factory.
Tea farmers owed 45 percent of the factory shares. The foundations said that over the last 10 years, they provided a combination of finance, technical, managerial and governance support to turn the factory business around.
Now, the factory is owned 100 percent by farmers, through two smallholder tea cooperatives – Cooperative du Thé Mulindi (COOPTHE) and Cooperative du Thé Villageois Mulindi (COOTHEVM) and their umbrella investment vehicle, Mulindi Tea Company (MTC).