The Wood Foundation continues commitment to East African tea industry

The Wood Foundation (TWF), originally named the Wood Family Trust, is a venture-philanthropy organization established by Sir Ian Wood and his immediate family in 2007. It is a Scotland-based charity with a global outlook investing in economic, community and enterprise activities in the UK and Sub Saharan Africa. TWF released its 2015 Chairman’s Review in September, which details the foundation’s work within the tea sector in Sub Sahara Africa. The Wood Foundation’s activities in East Africa are managed through The Wood Foundation Africa (TWFA), a wholly owned subsidiary of The Wood Foundation.

In Tanzania and Rwanda, TWFA alongside its partner Lord David Sainsbury’s Gatsby Trust, continues to make a significant impact within the tea sector. This includes the Chai Project in Tanzania and the Imbarutso Project in Rwanda, in addition to two privatised tea factories and new greenfield developments.

TWFA is achieving systemic and sustainable change with considerable new planting expanding the tea industry in both countries and thus enriching the rural resource. Through its Imbarutso and Chai programs, TWFA has seen an average 70 percent increase on farmer yields in the last two years while small-holder tea farmer income has doubled. TWF’s program includes 9,500 hectares of new tea planting. Additionally, 23 percent of all tea production in Rwanda now comes from the TWF majority owned Mulindi and Shagasha factories. Furthermore, TWFA is greatly enhancing the farming skills, capabilities and know-how of a huge number of small-holder farmers, some of whom are coming into tea for the first time.

Across the two countries TWFA now works with more than 45,000 small-holder tea farmers. This includes the two largest small-holder greenfield development tea projects in Africa, both of which are joint ventures with Unilever and will develop over 7,000 hectares of small-holder tea, reaching an additional 8,000 small-holder farmers.

The ongoing success of TWF’s tea portfolio has attracted other philanthropic investors and donors. Over the last year the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has continued its involvement with the Chai Project and the major Njombe tea-planting programme in Tanzania, and more recently, has supported TWFA’s Kibeho-Munini Greenfield Project in Rwanda. All of TWF’s partnerships align with its small-holder objectives and enable the foundation to work with increasing numbers of small-holders on a broader geography.

“The Foundation is in good shape with good direction and an excellent management team. We have invested £25 million to date, committed a further £45 million and TWF has £90 million funds still to commit, so we are not resource constrained in developing our programs,” said Sir Ian Wood, executive chairman of The Wood Foundation.

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