South America

In the Andes, the landscape is dotted with smallholder farmers making their livelihoods by growing coffee or cocoa.

These farmers are members of cooperatives, associations, or social enterprises that allow them to fetch premium prices on the international market. Our Colombia-based staff work in conjunction with our Peru-based partner organization, ACCDER, to equip these enterprises with the credit and capacity building they need to go even further for South American farming families.

In this region we currently work in Colombia and Peru.

Stories of Impact


As Demand Grows, It’s Time to Invest in the Future of Coffee

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.

A Persistent Daughter Teaches Her Old School Dad New Tricks

Throughout our 15 years of lending to agricultural enterprises, we have found that women are often hired for office positions in accounting, marketing, sales and other midlevel management roles – roles that are highly influential but less visible, and therefore less studied and celebrated, than top-tier leadership roles. We call these women “hidden influencers.” In the context of large corporations, McKinsey & Company has defined the term “hidden influencers” as “people other employees look to for input, advice, or ideas about what’s really happening in a company.” Odalis Noeme Guerrero is just one example of a “hidden influencer” we have had the fortune of meeting through our work. Odalis  Noeme Guerrero, agronomist at UNICAFEC.

Women in Agriculture Trip to Colombia: Dispatch from the Field

Root Capital SVP Catherine Gill (center) with trip participants. Through this blog, we try to bring you close to our clients and their stories. Sometimes, some of our partners and donors take the opportunity to get even closer, and accompany us over the mountain and down the muddy road to meet the farmers and see firsthand the amazing agricultural businesses we work with. Two weeks ago, the Root Capital crew – our senior vice president, Catherine Gill, our Colombian loan officer, and I – bused around Colombia’s coffee lands with partners from the Weissberg Foundation, Dietel Partners, and the Aspen Institute – on a Women-in-Agriculture-themed trip.

Guinea Pigs, Fish and Bees: How Peruvian Clients are Diversifying Livelihoods

Members of Root Capital client CAPEMA, a small coffee cooperative in San Martin, Peru, use beekeeping as an income generating activity. The coffee leaf rust crisis that swept through Latin America from 2011 to 2014 forced many coffee-farming families to find alternative sources of income just to make ends meet. To address this critical need, Root Capital began working with our clients two years ago to explore income diversification opportunities for rural families. Recently, in Lima, Peru, Root Capital and Heifer Peru convened a workshop for representatives from over 40 of these farmer organizations to exchange their experiences with a variety of non-coffee ventures and discuss successful business models for revenue diversification.

Shade-Grown Coffee: What’s the Big Deal?

If you bought a cup of certified coffee recently, chances are high it might have been brewed using "shade-grown" beans. But what is shade-grown coffee exactly, and why is it important?

A Glimpse from the Field: Seeing Peru through My Eyes

If you’ve ever been to Peru, you know that there’s almost a magical energy that permeates the country. The colors, the food, the crazy geographical diversity, the cultural heritage, pride and resilience of its remarkable people – although I’ve been to Peru many times, its novelty truly never fades and my love for it grows deeper with each plate of ceviche. A few weeks ago, I accompanied a small group of Root Capital investors on a trip to the Peruvian countryside, getting a first-hand perspective of Root Capital’s impact by visiting coffee clients and a potential nut client in the San Martin region in the central Andes. As I boarded my flight home, I left feeling inspired and energized by the things we saw, the stories we heard, and the people we met. I think we all did. Here are a few memorable moments from the trip: