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
After a decade of growth, a coffee cooperative shows why reliable access to finance is critical for success. Global coffee consumption is on the rise. According to the International Coffee Organization, demand will increase by 25 percent over the next five years. As The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, this offers tremendous opportunities for smallholder coffee producers in Uganda, Africa’s biggest coffee exporter. It’s here where, in my role as a portfolio manager for Root Capital, I witness how the cultivation and sale of coffee can transform rural communities. Since 2005, Root Capital has lent over $200 million to small and medium-sized enterprises throughout Africa, including more than $80 million to clients in East Africa’s coffee industry. And I have seen how access to finance is a crucial ingredient in the sector’s growth.
Stella Kimemia of Classic Foods | photo credit: Partners in Food Solutions. It’s an inspiring thing to see a woman-led business increasing livelihoods for women farmers and employees in parts of the world that markets struggle to reach. It’s even more powerful when that business does so while having a positive impact on the physical environment. At Root Capital, investing in those kinds of businesses – high-impact, gender-inclusive, focused on agriculture – is our sweet spot. We provide loans and capacity-building services to these enterprises in Africa, Asia and Latin America, giving them the critical capital they need, but all too often cannot access, to grow their business and scale their impact.
Over the last year or so, our Advisory Services team has been experimenting with different ways in which we can continue to increase the participation of women in our various financial management and technical assistance workshops around the world. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Charles Maina, our financial advisory coordinator for East Africa, to hear about the innovative approach he and his team have been piloting among our Advisory clients in Uganda and Rwanda.
Napoleon Kwizera, production manager at Coffee Villages in Rwanda, the country of a thousand hills. As we turned the bend and continued down the hill on our way to the Coffee Villages coffee processing station earlier this month, we were greeted by Napoleon Kwizera, his phone raised and face scrunched as he furiously recorded coffee transactions into his phone. He greeted us quickly, distractedly, and indicated that he’d be with us as soon as he was done.
Root Capital client Gumutindo helps improve livelihoods and secure futures for many farm families affected by HIV/AIDS. Today, as we mark the 27th World AIDS Day, we wanted to share the story of Gumutindo, a coffee enterprise located on the foothills of Mount Elgon, Uganda's highest volcanic mountain.
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.