In East Africa, smallholder farmers grow coffee, macadamia nuts, and sorghum that powers the economy, as well as local food crops to feed the growing population. These farmers depend on agricultural businesses to help them access domestic and international markets. With a regional office in Kenya and colleagues based throughout the region, we help these businesses grow.
West Africa is a region dominated by farming, with families cultivating everything from cash crops to nutritious local grains. We’re innovating new ways to finance and train agricultural enterprises that buy local food crops—cassava, rice, millet—to feed the region’s rapidly-growing population while also working with businesses to improve livelihoods for the region’s cocoa farmers.
In this region we currently work in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Stories of Impact
High in Rwanda’s southern mountains, farmers grow some of the highest-quality coffee on Earth. The volcanic soil gives beans a rich flavor that commands a premium price on the international market. But this specialty coffee is at risk-as are the livelihoods of the 400,000 smallholder farmers in the country who depend on it. According to Jean Baptiste Munezero, the agronomic…
Erick Sakwa (L) walks a field of recently harvested sorghum with a farmer during a visit to a Root Capital-financed enterprise in Kenya. At the risk of stating the obvious: Running a small business is a lot of work. Entrepreneurs and staff—often pressed for time, money, and resources—devote most of their energy to keeping the lights on, leaving little time…
Eighty kilometers outside of Nairobi, the Patel family’s macadamia factory buzzes with activity. In 2016, Mehul and Chirag Patel founded macadamia processing business Rainsun Nuts; every year since, they’ve doubled their sales. Between their office in Nairobi and their factory in the rural town of Sagana, they’ve created jobs for dozens of people—the majority of whom are women, and many of whom are under 35.
The saw makes a grinding sound as Albert, a young Ugandan agronomist, maneuvers it back and forth slowly, cutting through the trunk of the coffee tree. His colleague Ambrose stands next to him, bracing the tree and readying himself to carefully lower it to the ground once the trunk is severed. They repeat the process, one, two, three times for a single tree, cutting away three small trunks almost to the stump—until there’s just a single spindly-looking branch remaining.
Photo: USAID/Siegfried Modola Root Capital and the IKEA Foundation are announcing a new partnership, worth €4.8 million, to help 260,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda increase their income and adapt to climate change. The grant builds on the success of a previous partnership, through which Root Capital supported dozens of Kenyan agricultural businesses, helping them break the cycle of poverty in rural communities.
Driving along the winding dirt roads of Kenya’s central highlands, it doesn’t take long to spot scores of women farming in the mist. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that women perform 75 to 89 percent of the country’s agricultural labor. Yet all too often, this labor goes unrecognized.