Obama Administration Recognizes Root Capital for Excellence in International Development

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2015 – Today the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, presented awards recognizing exceptional achievement in international development during a special ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Root Capital was honored alongside six other leading innovators who all exemplify the central role of private sector investment in lasting international development. Root Capital was recognized with the 2015 OPIC Impact Award for Renewable Resources - Agriculture for providing access to capital and financial training to smallholder farmers around the globe.

“Root Capital is an extraordinary pioneer in the world of development through its use of finance, and OPIC is proud to be its partner,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s president and CEO. “We share Root Capital's belief in the power of markets to bring about lasting change, and we admire their efforts to help smallholder farmers reach larger markets through access to capital and financial training. This is exactly the type of work OPIC seeks to identify and support, and we're thrilled to recognize Root Capital with our 2015 OPIC Impact Award for Renewable Resources - Agriculture."

"OPIC has been essential to helping Root Capital grow and scale its impact," said Willy Foote, Root Capital founder and CEO. "It's an honor to accept this award on behalf of the over one million farm families that OPIC enables Root Capital to serve."

The awards ceremony was punctuated by a keynote address from National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who made a compelling case for investing in economic development as a lasting tool for peace and prosperity, as well as remarks from U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Myron Brilliant.

“The Chamber recognizes OPIC’s unique role in helping mobilize private sector investment in the service of development. With more than half of U.S. exports bound for developing countries, OPIC provides valuable support for American businesses to remain competitive in those markets. OPIC helps U.S. business serve as a force for good in the world, as today’s winners demonstrate,” said Brilliant during remarks at the ceremony.

In addition to Root Capital, the following six organizations also received the 2015 OPIC Impact Award for their respective categories:

  • Innovation: Belstar Development, LLC, for large-scale efforts to modernize Ghana’s healthcare system through provision of medical equipment, services and training for 100 hospitals throughout the country. OPIC political risk insurance coverage of $250 million allowed Florida-based Belstar to help close the $1 billion gap in medical infrastructure that prevents ready access to quality healthcare for many Ghanaians.
  • Development Impact: Bridge International Academies, for creation of a network of hundreds of low-cost, high-quality schools across Kenya that are on track to educate hundreds of thousands of pupils drawn from the entire income spectrum. Bolstered by $10 million in OPIC financing, the U.S. entrepreneurs that founded Bridge scaled up their proven model from just a few schools to comprehensive coverage of the country.
  • American Small Business: CSI Latina, a Miami-based business that provides crucial growth equipment and tools to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing Latin American countries. Empowered by multiple OPIC loans, CSI Latina offers SMEs leases on items ranging from heavy machinery to communications technology to furniture. This vital support allows growing SMEs to overcome budget constraints and achieve greater financial flexibility.
  • Access to Finance: Global Communities Vitas s.a.l., for a wide-ranging microfinance lending efforts across Lebanon that issued over 36,000 loans totaling nearly $70 million and supporting tens of thousands of jobs. Catalyzed by a $20 million OPIC financing commitment, Maryland-based Global Communities helped lay the groundwork for stabilizing entrepreneurial growth in Lebanon, a key regional economy.
  • Development Impact: Sante GMT, for increasing the standards of food production and distribution in Georgia, where they have expanded their dairy operations to establish new milk collection centers that benefit farmers and modernized production centers for milk, yogurt, butter and cheese. Growing through the support of $17.6 million in OPIC loans, Sante has helped Georgia take an important step forward in agriculture and economic growth.
  • Renewable Resources – Energy: Simpa Networks, for bringing scalable and affordable home solar systems to villages across rural India not connected to a central power grid. OPIC financing of $3 million helped Simpa, whose U.S. office is in Seattle, Washington, to expand the availability of their innovative pay-as-you-go systems, spreading electricity access – a key driver of economic growth – for tens of thousands of rural Indians.


About Root Capital

Root Capital is an agricultural impact investor that grows rural prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa, Asia, and Latin America by providing capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses. Since 1999, Root Capital has disbursed more than $800 million in credit to over 550 businesses, representing 1.2 million smallholder farmers. Root Capital’s clients produce dozens of different agricultural products, from coffee, cocoa, and cashews, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to wild-harvested products like natural gums and shea butter.  For specific client examples, see: http://www.rootcapital.org/portfolio

About OPIC

OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help address critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds, when funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers.

All OPIC projects adhere to high environmental and social standards and respect human rights, including worker's rights. By mandating high standards, OPIC helps raise the industry and regional standards of the countries in which its projects operate. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 160 countries worldwide.