The goal set out by RSTGA-SACCO is to provide all members with access to affordable credit. To this end, they got together with Agriterra in 2015 and came up with two important steps:
The RSTGA-SACCO cooperative
Savings and credit cooperative RSTGA-SACCO was founded in 2008 as a result of the efforts of the producers' association Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association. It provides savings and current accounts. The cooperative also deals with loans for its members, small-scale tea growers from Tukuyu.
The loans are predominantly intended for agricultural purposes, such as the procurement of seeds and artificial fertiliser. The young financial cooperative has grown from some 2,000 members and one office in 2008 to 10,000 members and 5 offices in 2015. Over the next few years, RSTGA-SACCO predicts that the number of members will rise to 15,000.
Effective agreements, foundation for success
In 2015, the cooperative began working with Agriterra to realise its goals. The farmers' bank started by making agreements with RSTGA and WATCO, a large tea processing company. These parties now actively encourage their tea growers to join RSTGA-SACCO. They also pledge to allow payments to be made directly via the SACCO current account. This results in more money in the cooperative savings bank, which in turn increases the possibilities for lending.
The continued professionalisation of the organisation represents another advantage. The five offices work together more effectively and the organisation is investing in new means of automation, as well as employee and management training. Thanks to this collaboration, RSTGA-SACCO is growing to become an established professional cooperative and is setting a positive example in the region.