Climate Action

Small and growing agricultural enterprises are global leaders championing climate resilience in their communities.


For farmers, climate change is not a far-off crisis. It’s a daily reality. Root Capital connects farmer enterprises with urgently needed resources, including localized data on climate risks, best practices for mitigation and adaptation, and capital for climate-smart investments.

The Challenge

Despite significant global commitments around climate change and the recognized importance of agriculture in confronting it, only 3% of climate capital today flows to agriculture. This investment is often too narrow in scope or one-time-only, leaving under-resourced communities to confront a massive global challenge on their own.  

Yet farmers are our greatest allies in the fight to save our planet. The right support can enable them to conserve precious ecosystems and adapt to existing climate impacts—all while maintaining or even raising their incomes.

Our Approach

Lend to businesses committed to rural climate action.

Build enterprise and farmer capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Pilot financial products to unlock enterprise investments in climate action.

Demonstrate successful approaches and encourage replication by others.

Our Impact

$37M

56

413K

in climate finance disbursed to vulnerable communities.

businesses receiving agronomic and climate resilience advisory.

farmers and employees reached via climate resilience work.


Stories of Impact


Shade-Grown Coffee: What’s the Big Deal?

If you bought a cup of certified coffee recently, chances are high it might have been brewed using "shade-grown" beans. But what is shade-grown coffee exactly, and why is it important?

New Tools to Assess Social and Environmental Practices in Smallholder Supply Chains

One year ago, we published our inaugural issue brief on the emerging business case for financial institutions to conduct due diligence on the social and environmental practices of their borrowers and investees. To stimulate a broader dialogue on the topic, we also released the social and environmental scorecards that Root Capital loan officers use to evaluate the performance of our clients: small and growing businesses (SGBs) that aggregate and serve thousands of smallholder farmers.

From Guatemala: Three Ideas for Improved Agricultural Training

Last month, we shared one of the findings from our recent multi-client impact study: that cooperative membership was associated with more widespread use of sustainable agricultural practices by farmers. Despite these signs of improvement, however, we also found that the overall use of sustainable agricultural practices remained limited. Most cooperative members reported using only a handful of the 10 sustainable agricultural practices examined in the study. When they did use these practices, members were often implementing them incorrectly or inconsistently from year to year, due to financial constraints or limited agronomic knowledge. 

Reducing the Environmental Footprint of Coffee Production: Learning from Guatemala

Last month, we shared key findings from an impact study conducted with four Root Capital clients, coffee cooperatives in Guatemala. Together, these cooperatives provide market access for over 800 smallholder farmers, who generally own one to four hectares of land.

Environmental Impact: A Glimpse Into Tziscao Coffee Cooperative

In 2012 and 2013, Root Capital conducted a mobile data management project with Tziscao (pseudonym to protect the confidentiality of our client), a coffee cooperative client in southern Mexico. While not designed as an impact study, the engagement with Tziscao provided us with data pointing to the cooperative’s likely impacts on its farmer members, both in terms of improved livelihoods and…

Announcing New Case Study: Tziscao Coffee Cooperative

Member of Tziscao, a coffee cooperative in southern Mexico In 2012 and 2013, Root Capital conducted a mobile data management project with Tziscao (pseudonym to protect the confidentiality of our client), a coffee cooperative client in southern Mexico. While not designed as an impact study, the engagement with Tziscao provided us with data pointing to the cooperative’s likely impacts on…

Case Study: Tziscao

Tziscao aggregates and markets organic- and fair trade–certified coffee from 485 farmers in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. With this impact study, we seek to understand both the cooperative’s likely impacts on its members and of Root Capital’s impact on the cooperative, with regards to both farmer livelihoods and environmental performance.

Download Impact Study

Coffee: The Canary in the Coalmine for Climate Change

Nicolas Pineda, a coffee farmer and member of the 190-member cooperative Montaña Verde in Honduras. Note: This piece originally appeared on The Skoll World Forum website as part of a series on entrepreneurial solutions to climate change.  “It feels like a scourge from God,” said Nicolas Pineda as we surveyed row upon row of diseased coffee trees on his farm in Santa Barbara, Honduras. Nicolas showed me how coffee leaf rust, a fungus known as la roya in Spanish, was destroying his 18-year-old farm, turning verdant, productive coffee plants into spindly heaps of leafless sticks. Amid the surrounding lush green hills, the juxtaposition felt cruelly ironic.

Beyond the Scorecard: A Conversation with Two of Root Capital’s Sustainable Agriculture Buffs

  Jesse Last (left), Root Capital's value chain manager and Elizabeth Teague, senior associate for environmental performance. Last week when we released our first issue brief, Social & Environmental Due Diligence: From the Business Case to the Impact Case, we simultaneously released the scorecards used by our loan officers to evaluate clients’ social and environmental practices. To ensure the quality of the data we gather and the consistent application of due diligence standards by our loan officers, the scorecards alone are not enough, training is also required. In the case of our environmental scorecard, this has meant collaborating with the Rainforest Alliance to design and deliver three-day, field-based trainings in Costa Rica, Peru, and Kenya (next up is Ghana). Led by Rainforest Alliance agronomists, loan officers visited certified and non-certified farms in order to deepen their first-hand knowledge of sustainable agriculture.

Social & Environmental Due Diligence: From the Impact Case to the Business Case

We believe that assessing social and environmental factors is not just a way for mission-driven financial institutions like Root Capital to create impact. In this issue brief, we posit that social and environmental due diligence can also create financial benefits that partially or fully offset the costs involved for lenders and investors.

Download Issue Brief