Central America and Mexico
From well-established cooperatives to early-stage businesses looking to grow, the region is full of enterprises poised to drive impact for smallholder farmers. This support is increasingly urgent, as the region battles natural disasters and other impacts of climate change. With offices in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua, we use innovative funding mechanisms to unlock the impact potential of coffee, cocoa, and honey enterprises.
In this region we currently work in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.
Stories of Impact
This year, the world will consume more coffee than ever before. And industry projections point to growing demand in the years ahead, especially in emerging markets. Take China, for example. During its annual investor meeting last month, Starbucks highlighted that it’s opening the equivalent of one new store in China every day. The problem, however, is that this rising global demand for coffee cannot be met with a dwindling supply.
Kenia Ubeda, general manager of UCCEI, a Root Capital client in Matagalpa, Nicaragua Kenia Ubeda never thought she’d be running a coffee business. “I was an agronomist and a coffee farmer,” she says with a smile on her face. “I didn’t know the first thing about commercializing coffee.” But the community leaders who tapped Kenia to found and run UCCEI, a farmer cooperative in the coffee-fueled town of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, knew she had what it took. And in 2009, Kenia rose to the challenge and became UCCEI’s general manager, overseeing a business currently sourcing from over 900 smallholder farmers in the region.
Sonia Vasquez, agricultural extension officer for COMSA, presenting during the first day of the workshop For many of our clients, agricultural extension is a lifeline for the farm families they serve. “Extension,” as it is known in agriculture circles, is the delivery of agronomic best practices that can help farmers increase productivity, adapt to climate change and increase profitability. In December, we released an issue brief that highlighted, among other things, barriers to effective extension and how Root Capital works to help clients overcome these barriers using a shared value approach.
A young woman picks coffee on a farm associated with the Maya Ixil coop. Photo credit: Sean Hawkey. With towering oaks, gushing waterfalls and long green stretches of bountiful coffee trees, Guatemala’s Maya Ixil region is a place of lyrical beauty. But listen closely enough, and the lyrics tell an entirely different story – a story of an ugly past marked by heartbreaking violence.
Plenary panel at the 2015 Global Women's Network. Photo credit: ExxonMobil Foundation. Earlier this week, Iliana Martinez, the general manager of Cooperativa Esquipulas, a smallholder coffee farmer cooperative and Root Capital client in the highlands of Guatemala, and Root Capital’s SVP Catherine Gill joined First Ladies, private and public sector leaders, and the next generation of innovators in Dallas at the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s two-day Global Women’s Network summit.
En las tierras altas de Marcala, en Honduras, donde las calles no tienen nombre, para poder ir desde la iglesia - el punto principal de referencia que se utiliza en el pueblo– hasta la Cooperativa RAOS (la primera cooperativa de café 100% orgánica del país), es necesario contar con una de estas tres cosas: un mapa muy detallado, una guía local o una buena dosis de suerte.