THE CONTRIBUTION OF MICROFINANCE TO THE RESILIENCE STRATEGIES OF SMALLHOLDER TEA FARMERS IN BURUNDI
Microfinance services are of undeniable importance in the development of agriculture and in improving living standards in rural areas. However, their accessibility in developing countries is problematic. The objective of this article is to assess the contribution of microfinance to improve the living conditions of the population in rural areas of Burundi. An exploratory survey was conducted among 120 smallholder tea farmers in 2018 in two zones (Ijenda and Teza). These smallholder tea farmers are between 30 and 86 years old with a basic level of education. The results of the survey showed that the loans made it possible to carry out small projects and met some urgent needs. However, the level of indebtedness was low due to lack of collateral guarantee and the interest rate was relatively high. In addition, the information collected in Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) revealed a lack of support services within MFIs to enable optimal allocation of credits. To compensate for financial shortfalls, smallholder tea farmers are developing mechanisms for saving in kind and tontine systems with multiple socio-economic
roles built up. Credit beneficiaries in MFIs are increasingly losing interest in the MFIs credit systems in favour of tontines. In Ijenda zone, only 37.5% want to renew the credits against 41.4% in Teza zone.