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
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.
Last month, we shared one of the findings from our recent multi-client impact study: that cooperative membership was associated with more widespread use of sustainable agricultural practices by farmers. Despite these signs of improvement, however, we also found that the overall use of sustainable agricultural practices remained limited. Most cooperative members reported using only a handful of the 10 sustainable agricultural practices examined in the study. When they did use these practices, members were often implementing them incorrectly or inconsistently from year to year, due to financial constraints or limited agronomic knowledge.
Last month, we shared key findings from an impact study conducted with four Root Capital clients, coffee cooperatives in Guatemala. Together, these cooperatives provide market access for over 800 smallholder farmers, who generally own one to four hectares of land.
In addition to providing us with new insights about the lives of smallholder farmers affiliated with four of our coffee clients, the data from Improving Rural Livelihoods helped us to refine our impact framework — a model that Root Capital uses to map how services provided by clients can lead to improvements in rural incomes for producer households.
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.
Jesse Last is the Cocoa Sourcing Manager at Taza Chocolate and former Value Chain Relations Manager at Root Capital. This piece originally appeared on Taza’s blog. The dirt road before us drops down from beautiful, rolling hills into the tiny beach town of Dame-Marie, disappearing into the white sand and…