A Letter From Founder & CEO Willy Foote Celebrating Root Capital’s 25 Years of Impact
2024 is a milestone year for Root Capital. The idea for Root Capital was seeded when I was living in rural Mexico during the late 1990s, where I witnessed firsthand how small agricultural businesses struggled to access the capital, markets, and business skills necessary for their success, despite their tremendous work ethic. It was clear that if these enterprises could thrive, they could in turn become engines of impact for rural communities: raising incomes, and promoting resilience and equity. Their funding needs were too big for microfinancing, but commercial lenders deemed them too risky; and so I started Root Capital to serve this “missing middle.”
When I look back, it’s hard to believe all we’ve accomplished in the past 25 years. Since 1999, Root Capital has served more than 800 lending clients, and loaned nearly $1.95 billion to agricultural businesses across a dozen countries in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. We’re poised to reach $2 billion in lending later this year—another momentous milestone for our silver anniversary. We’ve done this by keeping our clients as our North Star. We’ve stayed true to evolving our strategy in response to their needs, from access to finance to climate resilience and community inclusion, and we’re proud to call them our partners.
Our advisory services, initially conceived as a way to support our clients with their loan applications, are now an integral part of our ‘credit plus capacity’ approach. Over the years, we’ve expanded and customized these capacity building services to boost our clients’ overall resilience by helping them harness digital data for decision making, construct climate adaptation plans, and intentionally examine the roles of women, youth, and equity in their business models. To date, we have provided advisory services to more than 1,700 organizations, thereby building stronger businesses and providing more robust opportunities for farmers.
To celebrate just how far we’ve come, we have exciting plans for the year ahead, from stories of impact to showcasing our model at events to celebrating our stakeholders: the clients, partners, funders, investors, board leadership, and staff who make this work possible. I want to thank you for being part of this journey with us, for the past 25 years, and for the next 25 to come.
All the best,
Founder & CEO