2022 was a year of tremendous progress in our work—work made possible by our dedicated community of supporters. As we enter 2023 ready to partner with rural communities for even greater impact, here are our top five highlights from last year.
This year marked a decade of powerful impact for rural women. We celebrated the 10th anniversary of Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture Initiative (WAI), which was created to identify and address systemic gender inequities. Since 2012, the WAI has grown to an organization-wide strategy reaching more than 550,000 women farmers and employees across the globe. Our celebration included the launch of Inclusion Pays: The Returns on Investing in Women in Agriculture, an analysis of 10 years of Root Capital’s global data that proves that investing in women in agriculture benefits women, businesses, and investors (read the report and watch the webinar recording!). In 2023, we will continue to scale our gender-inclusive financing and advisory services so that more businesses can tap into the power of women in agriculture.
According to the Climate Policy Initiative, 85% of the world’s need for climate finance is unmet. Of the financing that does exist, only 1.7% goes to small-scale agriculture—and even less to smallholder agricultural enterprises, even though they are on the frontlines of climate change. Through our Climate Resilience Roadmap, Root Capital aspires to help fill that gap by providing businesses with the financing and knowledge needed to build a resilient future for their communities. In 2021 and 2022, we piloted our first climate finance loans focused on soil regeneration and solar energy in Central America and East Africa, disbursing $1 million. In the coming year, we plan on scaling and broadening our climate lending, replicating pilots of soil regeneration and solar loans and introducing new products to cover other climate-smart infrastructure investments.
2022 was a banner fundraising year for Root Capital. We began the year with a transformative contribution from philanthropist and trailblazer MacKenzie Scott. New and existing investments and grants, along with a strong end of year fundraising campaign, have placed Root Capital in one of our strongest financial positions ever. Of course, 2023 will bring continued challenges for rural communities—and we will rely on the generosity of our donors and investors to meet those challenges head-on. Thank you for your continued support!
For the first time in years, Root Capital’s far-flung global staff reconnected face-to-face, via team retreats in the US, Kenya, Peru, and Mexico. While Zoom happy hours and singalongs have sustained us since 2020, there’s nothing like seeing colleagues—both old and new—in person. We were also thrilled to visit many of our clients, whether it was touring a macadamia processing center at the end of the harvest season or hiking into the highlands of Chiapas to see coffee farmers at work. In 2023, we hope to see many more of you in person while we also continue to invest in digital capabilities and remote advisory services for our clients.
In 2021, Root Capital launched a new five-year strategy to reimagine rural resilience. Volatile markets, widening inequality, climate change, and other systemic issues plague rural communities. But we believe agricultural enterprises can act as first responders to these crises—if they have the right resources. Now, just about halfway through our five-year plan, we’ve made huge strides in investing in proven solutions across access to finance, climate action, gender equity, and next-generation jobs. In the coming year, with your partnership and alongside our clients, we will reimagine rural resilience for millions of smallholder farmers.