Gender Equity

Agricultural enterprises can help level the playing field for rural women, boosting their economic opportunities and agency.

The Challenge

Women are the backbone of the agricultural sector. Yet numerous barriers—educational, economic, and social—prevent them from accessing vital resources and opportunities. This inequity doesn't just impact women; it can have damaging consequences for rural economies as a whole.

The good news is that by investing in rural women, we can increase agricultural productivity, reduce poverty and hunger, and promote economic growth. Closing the gender gap would not only help women prosper, it would help their families and communities thrive.

Our Approach

Seek out and unlock potential of businesses committed to gender equity.

Build women's financial and agricultural knowledge so they can thrive, personally and professionally.

Encourage and support women-led design of new products and services that benefit the whole community.

Demonstrate a model for investing in women in agriculture to help catalyze gender-smart policies and practices.

Our Impact

$80.5M

in loans to gender-inclusive and women-led businesses in 2021.

1338

women who received training to build their professional skills in 2021.

844

additional jobs for women supported by Root Capital in 2021.

554K

women farmers reached since 2012.


Stories of Impact


Learning from a Women’s Cooperative in Guatemala

Last week, Root Capital impact officer Asya Troychansky wrote about the transformative impact that Root Capital’s financial management training has had on ACMUV, an all-women microcredit and handcraft association in Guatemala. This week, Estuardo Fuentes Gutiérrez, our Guatemala-based impact liaison, shares a recent conversation with Margarita Chojolán, regional training coordinator in Central America, about how we adapted our typical training to better serve women– and what we learned in the process.

Seizing the Opportunity to Train a Women’s Cooperative in Guatemala

Juana Hu Mateo, general coordinator at ACMUV. “In my home, my father and my mother always valued my sister and me less than my brothers,” says Juana Hu Mateo, a 41-year-old from Guatemala’s indigenous Maya Ixil community. Despite her parents’ lack of support and community norms against women’s participation outside the home, Juana persevered to study, eventually finding work as a seasonal coffee sorter at Asociación Chajulense, a coffee cooperative and Root Capital client in the western highlands of Guatemala.

15 Voices: An Interview with Esperanza Dionisio Castillo

Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa (Pangoa), a Fair Trade and organic-certified coffee cooperative located in San Martin de Pangoa, Peru, has been a Root Capital client for nearly a decade. Pangoa is a shining example of the power of the cooperative in local communities, and it’s unique in many ways – first and foremost, because it’s led by a woman. For the latest post in our 15 Voices blog series, we’re excited to share a recent interview with Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, Pangoa’s general manager, a true visionary who has been recognized internationally for her effective managerial skills and impressive commitment to Pangoa’s members and the broader community.

Women in Agriculture Initiative: 2014 Annual Report

Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture Initiative (WAI) seeks to promote greater economic opportunity for women by supporting small and growing businesses with access to credit and financial training and by promoting gender-inclusive practices. In 2014, we extended the reach of our financial products and services, increasing the number of gender-inclusive clients in Africa and Latin America.

Download Report

A View from the Kitchen

In past trips to visit Root Capital coffee clients in the “field,” I generally went to the actual field – that is, the coffee farm, where I was overseeing one impact study or another. When we’d get to a farmer’s home, we’d greet the woman of the house, and sometimes her daughter by her side, and off we’d go, usually with men, to visit the coffee plot and learn about the current production.

On-the-Ground Insights from Guatemala: Announcing Our First Multi-Client Impact Study

Despite the resurgence of interest and new investment in agricultural development, the supply of actionable data on the impacts of enterprises that work with smallholder farmers trails behind the demand. Our impact studies, launched in 2011 as a complement to the social and environmental metrics collected during due diligence, seek to help address the knowledge gap in the sector. In the studies, we examine the impacts that our clients, small and growing agricultural businesses, have on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and on the environment, and we determine if and how our services increase the enterprises’ impacts. Today we’re excited to release our first multi-site impact study — Improving Rural Livelihoods: A Study of Four Guatemalan Cooperatives.

Earning a Premium for Women-Produced Coffee

Members of the women-only group that produce “Café Feminino” at the Nuhaulá cooperative. In early September, we released our second issue brief, Applying a Gender Lens to Agriculture: Farmers, Leaders, and Hidden Influencers in the Rural Economy, which chronicles our experience working to empower women throughout the economic continuum. This post is the first in a series of snapshots…

Applying a Gender Lens to Agriculture: Farmers, Leaders, and Hidden Influencers in the Rural Economy

In this issue brief, we share how we've applied a gender lens to our work in smallholder agricultural finance. Through our Women in Agriculture Initiative, we're doubling down on our support for women farmers, agro-processing employees, and leaders. This program is fostering economic empowerment and underscoring the vital nature of women in less conspicuous—but high-impact—agricultural roles.

Download Issue Brief

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.  

From Inspiration to Action: Celebrating International Women’s Day

Producer members of Root Capital client Savannah Fruits Company, a shea butter cooperative in Ghana Early last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, the United Nations Office for Partnerships, and Business Call to Action hosted their annual International Women’s Day Forum, a daylong event at the United Nations marking International Women’s Day, which the…