Burundi wishes to significantly increase CFC investments in their country.
A business delegation from Burundi visited the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) today to explore mutual cooperation in the future. Hon. Marie Chantal Nijimbere, Minister of Commerce, Transport, Industry and Tourism of Burundi led a 17-member delegation comprising both public and public sector representatives from Burundi. H.E. Mr. Gamaliel Nkurunziza, Ambassador of Burundi to the Netherlands accompanied the delegation. Ambassador Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Managing Director of the CFC received Hon. Nijimbere and her delegation upon arrival of the motorcade at the CFC. Ambassador Belal was accompanied by Ms. Fatima-Zohra Yaagoub, Impact Strategy Officer, Mr. Chris Rallis, Junior Analyst Consultant, and Mr. Jos de Best, TA Facility Manager.
Welcoming the Minister, Ambassador Belal briefed the Minister about the enormity of challenges for commodity dependent developing countries as they are trying their best to recover from the effect of the COVID-19, war in Ukraine and appreciation of the United States dollar. For countries like Burundi, an LDCs (Least Developed Country), as well as an LLDC (Land Locked Developing Country) and a commodity dependent developing country, challenges are way over the roof. With 90 per cent of the people engaged in subsistence agriculture in Burundi, CFC would like to work with the government and businesses in Burundi so that our innovative interventions could alleviate more people from poverty following a commodity value chain-based approach. Ambassador Belal stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we can no longer treat seemingly far away crisis as distance problem. What happens anywhere can affect people everywhere. This is more so for all the economic hardships that country’s like Burundi has to withstand for war in Ukraine and the resultant currency appreciation of United States dollar.
Following an introductory presentation on CFC, Ambassador Belal briefed Hon. Marie Chantal Nijimbere, H.E. Mr. Gamaliel Nkurunziza and the members of the delegation on the current as well as probable future initiatives of the CFC, inter alia the ongoing initiative on the formulation of a fund titled Agricultural Commodity Transformation (ACT) Fund (formerly referred to as ‘CIIF’) and thereby enabling CFC to contribute more for alleviation of poverty. Once formed, the ACT Fund could also be an avenue for member countries to join this impact investment fund as anchor investors.
Hon. Nijimbere highly appreciate the good work of CFC and would like to see a quntum increase in the activities of CFC in her country as well as avenues for technical assistance for the Burundian businesses so that they can improve upon on their commodity value chains. Burundian Minister Nijimbere also welcomed the idea of single country trust funds for countries like Burundi because of their mounting development challenges. On the modalities of de-risking the investments, the delegation opined to have more cooperation between CFC and local banks in Burundi. Amb. Nkurunziza, recalling on his earlier visit to CFC, assured to remaining engaged with the CFC so that more investments from CFC could be routed to Burundi in the days to come.
The meeting further provided a question & answer session which was widely used by the delegation to discuss the financing opportunities offered by the CFC for SMEs in commodity value chains, and the eligibility criteria and application procedures for accessing financing from the CFC.
Before taking leave, the Minister expressed her utmost satisfaction at the current state of affairs of CFC. She also expressed her desire for a much-expanded CFC as the world needs organizations like CFC to help smallholders/SMEs to enhance their income so that they can lift themselves from poverty.