15 Voices: An Interview with Esperanza Dionisio Castillo


Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa (Pangoa), a Fair Trade and organic-certified coffee cooperative located in San Martin de Pangoa, Peru, has been a Root Capital client for nearly a decade. Pangoa is a shining example of the power of the cooperative in local communities, and it’s unique in many ways – first and foremost, because it’s led by a woman. For the latest post in our 15 Voices blog series, we’re excited to share a recent interview with Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, Pangoa’s general manager, a true visionary who has been recognized internationally for her effective managerial skills and impressive commitment to Pangoa’s members and the broader community.

Root Capital: When did you first encounter Root Capital? 

I met Root Capital’s CEO, Willy Foote, at the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) annual event in 2003. We were discussing the problems cooperatives were facing at the time, like poor quality and producers’ inability to supply product on-time. Willy and others believed in us and our farmers, arguing that we could produce very high quality products. We said to ourselves: “If we are participating in a specialty coffee event, that’s because we’re capable of producing a specialty coffee.”

Root Capital: Why have you been involved with Root Capital?

We have received financing from Root Capital because they understand how our business works and truly trust their clients. We were unable to provide traditional collateral for the Root Capital loans, so the only thing that we provide is a contract that we have with our buyer. Root Capital understands and has confidence in agricultural businesses like Pangoa, and that is invaluable for us.

Root Capital: What is one word that summarizes Root Capital in your mind? 

Sustainability. Root Capital helps small organizations to achieve sustainable rural development by offering critically important financial services. Root also takes care of the planet, and is concerned about things like reforestation. Root Capital doesn’t just give us the capital and walk away – it helps us through training and consulting that improve our knowledge.

Root Capital: What excites you most about what Root Capital can achieve in the next 15 years?  

I hope Root Capital is around for more than just 15 more years! All of Root Capital’s guidance in helping us care for the planet is so important. It’s not only about the finance, but also about the incentives they create to help us improve the environment. Root Capital will play a big role in helping us take care of the earth and guard against climate change.

For more about Esperanza and Pangoa, check out the video below: 

Topics: Environment | Livelihoods | Our Community | Stories of Impact | Women in Agriculture |

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