The Scottish businessman's Foundation has played a significant role in creating economic activities to empower rural communities through business development, capacity building and financing. (Village Urugwiro)
President Paul Kagame yesterday met renowned Scottish businessman Sir Ian Wood, the chairperson of the Wood Foundation, a Scottish charity which started in 2007.
Through the Foundation, Wood has played a significant role in creating economic activities to empower rural communities through business development, capacity building and financing.
Among his major initiatives in the country is East African Tea Investments which is a partnership between the Wood Foundation and Lord Sainsbury’s Gatsby Foundation.
East African Tea Investments won privatisation bids of Mulindi and Sagasha tea factories which together produce about 23 per cent of Rwanda’s total tea output.
Speaking to the media after his courtesy call on the President, Wood said that they were in the process of expanding their venture in Rwanda which would consequently increase socio-economic impact to rural communities.
“We are in the middle of a very significant expansion. Rwanda has got a very good reputation for high quality tea and it’s an industry with a lot of room for expansion to have a lot of impact on rural communities,” Sir Wood said.
He said that they have since set up training and capacity building programmes for farmers with 1600 farmers set to graduate later this month.
The enterprise is now partnering with Unilever Tea Rwanda Limited to construct a tea processing factory and develop two large-scale tea sites in Nyaruguru District.
The factory will produce black tea from green leaf while two new tea estates that will support small-scale tea growers will be developed in Munini and Kibeho.
“We will be working with about 5,000 farmers from that area. It will be a new tea area and we are looking to develop 3,400 hectares there,” he said.
He added that they were hopeful that the project would make significant contributions to that area. He revealed that they were working on a similar project in another part of the country.
He hailed the Government’s commitment toward expanding the tea industry in the country and its impact on the economy.
The Minister for Agriculture, Geraldine Mukeshimana, said the partnership and involvement of Wood Foundation in recent years had made it possible to increase tea exports as well as improve the livelihoods and earnings of tea farmers in the country.
The new project is part of the government’s strategy for tea expansion in the country with a target of 18,000 hectares of tea plantation by 2020. Sir Ian Wood is a billionaire with a net worth of $1.6bn according to Forbes.