How this Peruvian Artisan is Running a Business on Her Own Terms

Posted by Will McAneny  |  Oct 12, 2016 11:20:04 AM


Fany Paty, artisan supplier to Art Atlas, a textile business based in Arequipa, Perú. 

Fany Paty always wanted to run her own business.

Like many entrepreneurs, Fany longed for a job where she could have flexible working hours and a healthy degree of independence. But for Fany, this wasn’t a matter of personal preference. She needed to bring in enough money to provide for her family while still having the time to care for them day-to-day.

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Topics: Women in Agriculture, South America

Cultivating the Next Crop of Agricultural Entrepreneurs

Posted by Matt Foerster  |  Oct 6, 2016 1:10:25 PM


Young managers participating in a financial management training hosted by Root Capital. Photo credit: Stuart Freedman/Argidius Foundation

The annual macadamia harvest is now underway in Kenya, and The Village Nut Company’s hilltop factory in Nyeri County is buzzing with activity. As farmers deliver their crop and employees carefully hand-sort the finest nuts, the Muhara siblings are busy mentoring the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs, fulfilling a promise they made years ago. 

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Topics: East Africa, Youth in agriculture

A Step Towards Peace

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Sep 20, 2016 5:37:08 PM

Two years ago almost to the day, 60 Colombian musicians came together and released a song called “Un Paso Hacia la Paz” (“A Step Toward Peace”). Amid joggling maracas, an impassioned choir of pop stars, indigenous singers, and Vallenato musicians sing, “Así es como canta Colombia por la paz” (“This is how Colombia sings for peace”), urging for an end to the country’s 50-year armed conflict.

Fast-forward to today, and the peace Colombia sings for is finally within reach.

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Topics: Peace & Recovery, South America, Willy Foote

Investing in Uganda’s Coffee Sector

Posted by Richard Tugume  |  Aug 23, 2016 3:13:28 PM

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.

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Topics: East Africa

Smallholder Farmers: A Critical Piece of the Climate Change Solution

Posted by Elizabeth Teague  |  Aug 3, 2016 12:26:49 PM

When it comes to climate change, the world’s farmers are often portrayed as either victims or contributors. But what if we, instead, viewed them as part of the solution?

Farmers have enormous potential to be environmental stewards, conserving vital resources for generations to come. We see this every day in our work at Root Capital. Through “climate-smart” agricultural practices – like  agroforestry production or the use of drought-resistant seeds – farmers are leading the way when it comes to climate change solutions.

This new video from Farming First explains how climate-smart agriculture has helped farmers around the world adapt and thrive in the face of a changing climate: 


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Topics: Climate Smart Agriculture

What do Silicon Valley and Africa’s Sahel Have In Common?

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Jul 28, 2016 6:00:00 AM


Overlooking a village in southeastern Senegal. 


What do Silicon Valley and Africa’s Sahel have in common?

At first blush, not too much. One is apps, algorithms, and acquisitions, and the other? Well, you might be thinking more of a woman in a field, tilling soil with a hand hoe, a vast horizon behind her.

Over the last month, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to both places – first to eastern Senegal to meet with Root Capital clients (agricultural businesses organizing hundreds of cashew growers and millet farmers across the remote region), and later to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, convened by President Obama. And I can tell you one thing: the very same entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that fuels Silicon Valley is alive and well on the last mile of dirt roads in the Sahel.

The problem is, the world hasn’t supported agricultural entrepreneurs in the same way that Silicon Valley supports tech entrepreneurs. But what if it did?

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Topics: West Africa, Pathological Collaboration, Willy Foote