Steward Bank recently announced AgroFuture -a financing scheme which seeks to enhance agricultural production locally.
AgroFuture sees Steward Bank partner with a number of companies under the Cassava Smartech banner including EcoSure, EcoCash, EcoFarmer and Vaya.
Steward Bank didn’t explain how exactly these companies will actually contribute to AgroFuture but we do know that Vaya can help farmers hire out tractors, whilst EcoFarmer also gives farmers information on markets and produce. We will get in touch with Steward to understand the role of these businesses in the context of AgroFuture and follow this article up.
Beyond the partnership with Cassava Smartech brands, Steward also said it’s partnering the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United States Development Finance Corporation and the International Finance Corporation. My issue with Steward’s media release on this though is again they don’t give details regarding what the partnership will entail but only say it will provide “comprehensive and holistic solutions that leverage technology to deliver value in agriculture for the country”. What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine at this point.
The clearer details the bank shared are that they plan to improve productivity by providing access to finance and key innovations to farmers, rural agro-dealers, aggregators and manufacturers.
AgroFuture will also provide short term loans to support financing of “smart tools” such as agri-focused drones, soil test kits, drip irrigation and GPS technology.
ReImagine Rural financing
Steward Bank also shared that AgroFuture would finance the ReImagine Rural program. ReImagine Rural is a US$100 million fund that Strive & Tsitsi Masiyiwa announced in early 2019.
The fund which is our own personal money will be disbursed as loans through Steward Bank (a member of the Econet group).
The money will support projects from rural entrepreneurs or those entrepreneurs willing to focus on rural areas.
Where are the specifics?
Unfortunately, AgroFuture doesn’t have a product page on the Steward Bank website so at the moment it’s a bit of a mystery product. A big problem with many Econet/Cassava announcements nowadays is that there is always a huge announcement which gets press coverage and that is followed by a lack of details or a deafening silence.
As aforementioned, we will reach out to Steward Bank to get some clarity on AgroFuture.