Access to Finance

When small and growing agricultural enterprises can access affordable financing, they have a larger impact on rural communities.


Financing catalyzes enterprise growth, which results in better incomes, services, and other support for farming families. Over more than 20 years, Root Capital has loaned $1.6 billion to agricultural enterprises worldwide, proving that these under-served businesses are bankableand that access to finance can have a ripple effect in rural communities.

The Challenge

Too many small and growing agricultural enterprises are stuck in the “missing middle”considered too big for microfinance and too small and risky for commercial banks. Without access to credit, cooperatives and other businesses are incredibly vulnerable to shocks, from COVID-19 to climate disaster.

But businesses with reliable financingtailored to their unique needs and harvest cyclesare resilient. When that financing is paired with training in critical business skills, the potential for growth and innovation is boundless.

Our Approach

Provide tailored, affordable financing to under-served businesses.

Build enterprise capacity to manage and grow credit.

Pilot blended financing models to reach early-stage, riskier businesses.

Demonstrate proven models and build the agricultural finance sector.

Our Impact

$1.6B

83%

25%

disbursed to under-served enterprises.

of our 2020 loans filled credit needs unmet by commercial lenders.

average annual growth of Root Capital clients.


Stories of Impact


Maya Ixil: Strengthening Economic Opportunities for Indigenous Farmers in Guatemala

To combat entrenched poverty and violence, this coffee cooperative improved the incomes of indigenous farmers. With towering oaks, gushing waterfalls and long green stretches of bountiful coffee trees, Guatemala’s Maya Ixil region is a place of lyrical beauty. But listen closely enough, and the lyrics tell an entirely different story-a story of an ugly past marked by heartbreaking violence. In…

UCCEI: Doubling Incomes Under One Woman’s Leadership in Nicaragua

After tapping a brilliant woman leader to run the business, this coffee cooperative is thriving. Kenia Ubeda never thought she’d be running a coffee business. “I was an agronomist and a coffee farmer,” she says with a smile on her face. “I didn’t know the first thing about commercializing coffee.” But the community leaders who tapped Kenia to found and…

Serendipalm: Charting a New Path in an Industry Known for Environmental Degradation in Ghana

By sourcing palm oil from pre-existing areas of cultivated land, Serendipalm is defying industry norms of deforestation and contributing to sustainable development in rural Ghana.

Copiasuro: Maximizing Gains for Farmers and the Environment in Guatemala

In the rural highlands of Guatemala, this honey cooperative has found ways for both farmers and the planet to thrive. When Alvaro Almengor assumed the position of general manager at Copiasuro, a cooperative of honey producers spread across the southwestern highlands of Guatemala, its 22 members had little more than 113 hives and dreams for a better life. “They…

Maraba: Rebuilding Lives and Livelihoods After Genocide in Rwanda

After the Rwandan genocide devastated the country, smallholder coffee farmers banded together to help their community recover and prosper. When genocide broke out in Rwanda in early April 1994, coffee farmers around the small town of Maraba had just begun the harvest. Early pickings were underway, and the coffee cherries were in their final weeks of maturation. Three months later…

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.

What a Dollar Can Do

Root Capital was founded in 1999 with a commitment to raising incomes for farmers working in the most vulnerable regions of the world. But instead of working with farmers directly, we chose to focus on the agricultural businesses that create economic opportunities for hundreds, or even thousands, of farmers at a time.

Internal Credit Funds: Extending Credit Where it’s Needed Most

Members of APROCASSI, a coffee cooperative in Peru, line up to apply for credit from the cooperative's internal credit fund. When asked about the effect that a rural business’ internal credit fund has on farmers, Root Capital advisor Fany Murillo answers with a single word: “epic.”

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. 

The Efficient Impact Frontier: New Tools to Allocate Capital for Impact

Root Capital, like many impact investors, operates in the gray area between traditional philanthropy and mainstream commercial markets. As a mission-focused lender, the organization serves the financial needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises—a Fair trade coffee cooperative in Uganda or an association of women quinoa producers in Bolivia, for example.