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 |

Investing in Uganda’s Coffee Sector

After a decade of growth, a coffee cooperative shows why reliable access to finance is critical for success. Global coffee consumption is on the rise. According to the International Coffee Organization, demand will increase by 25 percent over the next five years. As The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, this offers tremendous opportunities for smallholder coffee producers in Uganda, Africa’s biggest coffee exporter. It’s here where, in my role as a portfolio manager for Root Capital, I witness how the cultivation and sale of coffee can transform rural communities. Since 2005, Root Capital has lent over $200 million to small and medium-sized enterprises throughout Africa, including more than $80 million to clients in East Africa’s coffee industry. And I have seen how access to finance is a crucial ingredient in the sector’s growth.

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Topics: East Africa | Livelihoods | Stories of Impact |

Sustainable Agriculture Depends on Women

Stella Kimemia of Classic Foods | photo credit: Partners in Food Solutions. It’s an inspiring thing to see a woman-led business increasing livelihoods for women farmers and employees in parts of the world that markets struggle to reach. It’s even more powerful when that business does so while having a positive impact on the physical environment. At Root Capital, investing in those kinds of businesses – high-impact, gender-inclusive, focused on agriculture – is our sweet spot. We provide loans and capacity-building services to these enterprises in Africa, Asia and Latin America, giving them the critical capital they need, but all too often cannot access, to grow their business and scale their impact.

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Topics: East Africa | Environment | Women in Agriculture |

Getting Women a Seat at the Table: Q&A with Charles Maina, Financial Advisory Coordinator for East Africa

Over the last year or so, our Advisory Services team has been experimenting with different ways in which we can continue to increase the participation of women in our various financial management and technical assistance workshops around the world. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Charles Maina, our financial advisory coordinator for East Africa, to hear about the innovative approach he and his team have been piloting among our Advisory clients in Uganda and Rwanda.

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Topics: Advisory Services | East Africa | Staff Profiles | Women in Agriculture |

Using Mobile Technology to Empower Rural Enterprises

Napoleon Kwizera, production manager at Coffee Villages in Rwanda, the country of a thousand hills. As we turned the bend and continued down the hill on our way to the Coffee Villages coffee processing station earlier this month, we were greeted by Napoleon Kwizera, his phone raised and face scrunched as he furiously recorded coffee transactions into his phone. He greeted us quickly, distractedly, and indicated that he’d be with us as soon as he was done.

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Topics: Advisory Services | East Africa | Peace | Stories of Impact |

World AIDS Day 2014

Root Capital client Gumutindo helps improve livelihoods and secure futures for many farm families affected by HIV/AIDS. Today, as we mark the 27th World AIDS Day, we wanted to share the story of Gumutindo, a coffee enterprise located on the foothills of Mount Elgon, Uganda's highest volcanic mountain.

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Topics: East Africa | Stories of Impact |

Root Capital Client Sopacdi Brings Hope to the DRC

Sopacdi, a Root Capital client since early 2013 At this year’s Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) exposition, the world’s largest gathering of coffee professionals, all eyes were on Sopacdi, a coffee cooperative in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Root Capital client. Honored with the 2014 SCAA Sustainability Award, Sopacdi took center stage with its story of revival, growth and hope in the midst of a country ravaged by years of civil war and unthinkable violence.  

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Topics: East Africa | Peace | Women in Agriculture |

Africa’s Mega Micro Hedgers: Why we have a lot to learn from smallholder farmers

Margaret (left), of Olivalo, with Seraphina and Liz. In early February, several Root Capital supporters accompanied Catherine Gill, Root Capital’s Vice President of Investor Relations and Rachel Serotta, our Investor Relations Officer, on a trip to Tanzania and Kenya. In the post below, Liz Wilson of the Small Foundation reflects on the…

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Topics: East Africa | Our Community | Women in Agriculture |

Interview with Jeff Dykstra, CEO, Partners in Food Solutions

Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) is one of Root Capital’s allies within the food security space. Earlier this month, we spoke with CEO Jeff Dykstra about his organization and the challenges and opportunities associated with improving food security and nutrition around the world. What approach does Partners in Food Solutions take to improving food security?  Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) is an organization that aggregates the experience and know-how of employee volunteers from four leading global food companies: General Mills, Cargill, Royal DSM and Bühler to share that with small and growing food companies in Africa.

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Topics: East Africa | Food Security | Our Community | West Africa |