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 agricultural enterprises.

Build enterprise capacity to access and manage credit.

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

Demonstrate proven models and strengthen the agricultural finance sector.

Our Impact

$1.6B

83%

25%

disbursed to under-served agricultural enterprises.

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

average annual growth of Root Capital clients.


Stories of Impact


The Mutually Beneficial Cycle

The mutually beneficial relationship between agricultural business, smallholder, and natural environment. Note: In February, Root Capital 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. This is the second in a series that goes deeper on that social and environmental due diligence, addressing questions such as: What do we look for in the business we lend to, and why? How do we go about it? And how do smallholder producers and agricultural businesses in Africa and Latin America benefit, as well as upstream exporters, processors, retailers, and consumers worldwide?

Four Observations from Ghana’s Back Roads

As a board director and a donor, I’m in a good spot to closely track Root Capital’s progress, which also gives me regular opportunities to reevaluate the wisdom of my own investments of time and money.  While most of my work with Root Capital is done an arm’s length from the impact, I recently had my third opportunity to visit Root Capital clients, this time in Ghana with fellow board members, Root Capital staff, and my 17-year-old daughter. Here’s some of what I observed:

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

Women in Agriculture Series: The Changing Role of Women in Coffee – Part 2

Wesley Weissberg (left) interviewed women leaders and producers working in the coffee industry while in Guatemala. Last October, we shared the first audio story in a two part series produced Wesley Weissberg, a longtime supporter of Root Capital and advocate of our Women in Agriculture Initiative.

Just a Little Bit Bigger

Morning coffee in northern Nicaragua with Fatima Ismael, the amazing manager of SOPPEXCCA I’ve just returned from a trip to northern Nicaragua, where we were visiting SOPPEXCCA, a 750-strong farmer coffee cooperative managed by an extraordinary leader, Fatima Ismael. Fatima and I have worked together for a decade, and I always look forward to talking to…

Case Study: COOMPROCOM

This case study evaluates how the Nicaraguan coffee cooperative COOMPROCOM supports farmer livelihoods. It assesses the impact of Root Capital lending on clients, and the impact of COOMPROCOM on the smallholder farmers they serve.

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Root Capital Launches $7 Million, Multi-Year Initiative to Combat La Roya and Build Farmer Resilience

Last summer, Maria Eufemia Madonado Ocaño (pictured above) watched helplessly as almost all of her coffee trees died. The 52-year-old Peruvian farmer and member of Root Capital client Unicafec was unable to stop the devastating spread of coffee leaf rust, called la roya in Spanish. The fungus has been sweeping through coffee-growing regions in Central America and Peru since late 2012.

Women in Agriculture Series: The Changing Role of Women in Coffee – Part 1 of 2

Lesbia Morales, President of the Farmer Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) To mark International Day of Rural Women we are excited to kick off our Root Capital blog and share with you the first of two audio stories. These stories were produced for us by Wesley Weissberg, a dear supporter of Root Capital and an…

Rapid Impact Evaluation: Fruiteq

Fruiteq is a private enterprise that sources Fair Trade- and organic-certified mangoes from 830 small-scale farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast. This is the first case study Root Capital has conducted in the fresh fruits and vegetables sector. It provides practical lessons on the appropriate loan structure and risks particular to the value chain.

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CGAP — Scaling Climate Smart Agriculture by Financing Small and Growing Businesses

Over the past decade, we’ve financed hundreds of small and growing businesses employing sustainable approaches such as agroforestry, organic production, and responsible harvesting of natural products. This article details how we're scaling climate-smart practices at the smallholder level, thus maintaining the integrity of valuable landscapes while creating more prosperous and climate-resilient livelihoods for farmers, their families, and communities. View Article