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

$92.3M

in loans to gender-inclusive and women-led businesses in 2022.

1,641

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

128

additional jobs for women supported by Root Capital in 2022.

581K

women farmers reached since 2012.


Stories of Impact


In the West African Sahel, Women Stand Like Giants

The baobab trees of West Africa, gigantic in size and majestic in stature, are providers: They store water and food for animals in times of drought; they provide homes for birds (owls, parakeets and hawks) throughout the year; and, for many local families, the mighty baobab produces fruit, seeds and leaves that provide a critical source of income. Just starting a Root Capital due diligence trip in northern Senegal, beside the mighty baobab tree.

Así es como David Lozano de Root Capital trabaja para redefinir el ‘machismo’ en México

Inversión con un enfoque en la igualdad de género. Half the Sky.  HeForShe. Lean In. Durante los últimos años el empoderamiento económico de las mujeres se ha convertido en un tema predominante entre periodistas, profesionales del desarrollo internacional, inversionistas y empresas internacionales por igual. A pesar de que el interés en estos temas de la igualdad de género ha ido creciendo significativamente, David Lozano, quien trabaja en México como Coordinador de servicios de asesoría financiera para Root Capital, ya había iniciado a dedicar su trabajo a esta problemática desde hace 20 años, analizando el impacto que las desigualdades de género tienen en las personas, en las familias y en las comunidades en general.

How Root Capital’s David Lozano is Redefining ‘Machismo’ in Mexico

Half the Sky. Gender-lens investing. HeforShe. Lean In. Over the last several years, women’s economic empowerment has become a prevalent theme among journalists, international development practitioners, investors, and global companies alike. While mainstream interest in these issues has only recently piqued, Chiapas-based David Lozano, Root Capital’s Financial Advisory Services Coordinator for Mexico, has spent the last 20 years exploring gender inequality and its impact on individuals, families, and communities throughout the country.

Asuom, Ghana: Where Sustainable Palm Oil is Not an Oxymoron

Serendipalm employees in Asuom, Ghana. Photo credit: Dr. Bronner's. One hundred miles northwest of Accra, Ghana, sits Asuom, a village of surprising and beautiful contrasts and contradictions. The vermilion clay earth and rust-tin roofs in Asuom pop in contrast to the verdant greens of forests nearby. But it’s within these forests that an even more unexpected paradox exists: large, splayed trees producing sustainable palm oil. Four thousand acres of trees are cultivated by the 670 farmer members of Root Capital client Serendipalm – the world’s first, and largest, fair trade and organic certified palm oil company.

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.

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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.