Thousand hills farmers, thousand dollars per a kilo

I recently met with a farmer co-op in Eastern Rwanda to sign them up as one of our banana fiber suppliers. I described SHE and our mission, and then wrapped up our conversation by asking them how we can form a partnership with them. Without much discussion and without calculations, the farmers stated that they wanted more than US $20 (12000 Rfw) per kilo of banana fiber (excluding transportation costs)! And I was like !!! They had the misconception that SHE is a big NGO - one that has a lot of money and whose mission is to distribute it to the people. SHE, however, is a local, start-up business. 

When I then asked them how much money the pads should cost, they remained silent. The outcome of the meeting is that we need to get to know each other more. The farmers and I decided that they are going to produce one kilo of the banana fibers for us to know the cost of extraction and how many pseudo stems they need. Finally, we discussed different scenarios of extraction which are:
  1. Manual extraction: they will need a trainer because it is their first time to extract Banana pseudo stems.
  2. Machine : they will need also need a little training since nobody knows how to use it.
Farmers are there waiting for us to give them jobs. They sense the demand for the banana fibers, and more importantly for our pads, so it's up to us to show them that we have a long-term interest in producing products by the Rwandans themselves.


Junior Business Development Analyst

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