Factory is 100% owned by smallholders
Rwandan farmers taken control of the country's largest tea factory thnks to charities run by Scots oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood and Lord Sainsbury.
They signed over control of the Mulindi factory to two co-operatives at a ceremony in Gicumbi.
The Wood Foundation and Gatsby had owned the plant since it was privatised by the Rwandan government in 2012.
It is the first factory to be 100% owned by smallholder farmers in Rwanda.
Sir Ian Wood, executive chairman of The Wood Foundation, attended the ceremony on behalf of the philanthropic investors.
He said: “It’s been a matter of great pride and satisfaction for Lord Sainsbury and I to work with the tea farmers at Mulindi. It was difficult to begin with but with the investments and significant training programmes the farmers performance and their income have greatly improved.
“We are very pleased to be handing over a well-established successful company and will continue to provide some support for an interim period.”
Tea is an important crop in Rwanda, engaging a direct workforce of 60,000 people and supporting the indirect employment of a further 200,000.
Smallholders dominate Rwandan supply of quality tea – the producer of some of the best black tea in the world due to its rich volcanic soil and unique climate.
Omar Daair, the British High Commissioner to Rwanda, said: “This is a fantastic example of UK investment that improves livelihoods and increases exports of high-quality Rwandan tea.
"We are proud to be partnering with the Wood Foundation and the Rwandan Government in other parts of Rwanda on similar tea investments and are happy to see this pioneering handover in Mulindi today.”