How “Talent Partnerships” Unlock Business Growth in Rural Kenya

Eighty kilometers outside of Nairobi, the Patel family’s macadamia factory buzzes with activity. In 2016, Mehul and Chirag Patel founded macadamia processing business Rainsun Nuts; every year since, they’ve doubled their sales. Between their office in Nairobi and their factory in the rural town of Sagana, they’ve created jobs for dozens of people—the majority of whom are women, and many of whom are under 35.

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Topics: Advisory Services | East Africa | Partnerships |

To Adapt to a Changing Climate, Coffee Farmers Need Bold Allies

The saw makes a grinding sound as Albert, a young Ugandan agronomist, maneuvers it back and forth slowly, cutting through the trunk of the coffee tree. His colleague Ambrose stands next to him, bracing the tree and readying himself to carefully lower it to the ground once the trunk is severed. They repeat the process, one, two, three times for a single tree, cutting away three small trunks almost to the stump—until there’s just a single spindly-looking branch remaining.

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Topics: East Africa | Environment | Partnerships | Stories of Impact |

How Root Capital and the IKEA Foundation are Building the Resilience of Smallholder Farmers in East Africa

Photo: USAID/Siegfried Modola Root Capital and the IKEA Foundation are announcing a new partnership, worth €4.8 million, to help 260,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda increase their income and adapt to climate change. The grant builds on the success of a previous partnership, through which Root Capital supported dozens of Kenyan agricultural businesses, helping them break the cycle of poverty in rural communities.

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Topics: East Africa | Environment | Livelihoods | News and Announcements |

Gender Equity Grants: Helping Kenya’s Working Mothers Succeed

No woman should have to choose between caring for her children and pursuing a fulfilling career. In this Kenyan village, working mothers found a way to do both.

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Topics: East Africa | Partnerships | Stories of Impact | Women in Agriculture |

Eighteen Years Later, Our Work Is Far From Over

On a warm, breezy day in the sleepy Congolese city of Bukavu, I find myself on the back of a boda-boda motorcycle taxi, puttering down the unpaved city streets on my way to the National Office of Coffee. Down every alleyway I catch glimpses of the morning sun glimmering off of the calm waters of Lake Kivu. It’s the first day of “Saveur du Kivu,” a celebration of the reemergence of specialty coffee in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the country’s premier coffee event. I’m here representing Root Capital, which happens to be the largest coffee lender in the region.

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Topics: East Africa | Peace | Stories of Impact |

Reflecting on “Rwandan Women Rising”

  On a summer evening in Cambridge, MA, author, educator, and former ambassador Swanee Hunt sat down with activist Chantal Kayitesi and Root Capital founder and CEO Willy Foote to discuss the important role that women have played in Rwanda’s recovery from conflict. Hunt is the author of Rwandan Women Rising, a book she wrote to celebrate the visionary women who are paving the road to Rwanda’s recovery and reconciliation in the wake of the 1994 genocide.

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Topics: East Africa | Our Community | Peace |

Embracing Partnerships, Expanding Opportunities

Pathological collaboration. It’s a phrase we use frequently at Root Capital — a phrase that speaks to our willingness to embrace partnerships in order to expand economic opportunities for as many smallholder farmers as possible. Earlier this year, I got to see that approach in action.

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Topics: East Africa | Partnerships |

In the Hills of Northeast Congo, an Underdog Steps into the Ring

Hills rise into the sky in the coffeelands of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Looking out the window as my taxi jostles along a bumpy dirt road that winds from Goli to Ndrele town through the hills of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I’m struck by the peaceful scenery that surrounds us. Grassy hills spotted with groves of trees and small gardens of banana, maize, and coffee trees rise gently into the horizon, stretching for miles on either side of the road. However, this region’s apparent tranquility belies a violent past — and scars that a few scrappy businesses are fighting against all odds to heal. 

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Topics: East Africa | Peace | Stories of Impact |

Laying the First Stones towards Gender Equity

Women carry stones that will form the foundation of a new sorghum collection and storage center.  As part of my role with Root Capital, I’m privileged to travel to remote areas in Africa and Latin America to meet with our clients and the smallholder farmers at the core of their business. Recently, I was in Meru, Kenya, with my colleague Erick Sakwa, Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture coordinator for East Africa.

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Topics: East Africa | Stories of Impact | Women in Agriculture |

Cultivating the Next Crop of Agricultural Entrepreneurs

Young managers participating in a financial management training hosted by Root Capital. Photo credit: Stuart Freedman/Argidius Foundation The annual macadamia harvest is now underway in Kenya, and The Village Nut Company’s hilltop factory in Nyeri County is buzzing with activity. As farmers deliver their crop and employees carefully hand-sort the finest nuts, the Muhara siblings are busy mentoring the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs, fulfilling a promise they made years ago.

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Topics: East Africa | Stories of Impact | Youth |