Something Bigger Than Myself

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Dec 18, 2016 2:27:00 PM


Coffee from the Democratic Republic of Congo: these high-quality and award-winning beans have been colorfully described as having “a very easy-to-like personality and unthreatening complexity.” But aside from the country’s coffee, so much in the DRC is, in fact, threatening — and at the same time complex.

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Topics: East Africa, Peace & Recovery, Leadership, Impact Assessment, Risk Management

The Efficient Impact Frontier: New Tools to Allocate Capital for Impact

Posted by Mike McCreless  |  Dec 6, 2016 9:24:19 AM


Root Capital, like many impact investors, operates in the gray area between traditional philanthropy and mainstream commercial markets. As a mission-focused lender, the organization serves the financial needs of small- and medium-sized enterprises—a Fair trade coffee cooperative in Uganda or an association of women quinoa producers in Bolivia, for example.

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Topics: Impact Assessment, Risk Management

Maximizing Impact — at a Cost

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Jan 27, 2016 9:39:00 AM

We met Pamela Anyoti Peronaci six years ago, shortly after she founded Sunshine Agro Products, a chili and spice export business in Uganda. She had a true passion for business, and she envisioned building a company that would engage hundreds, maybe thousands, of smallholder farmers in sustainable agriculture to promote social and economic development in Soroti, one of Uganda’s poorest districts. 


Pamela Anyoti Peronaci, founder of Sunshine Agro Products

Bootstrapping her savings, Pamela established a network of farmers, the logistics required to deliver a high-quality product to market, and relationships with European buyers committed to purchasing all of the company’s production.

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Topics: East Africa, Root Capital, Impact Assessment, Willy Foote

The Mango Farmer Who Changed Everything

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Oct 29, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Mango farmer, Burkina Faso

A few years ago, a mango farmer in Burkina Faso told us something that forever changed the way we interact with our clients and the farmers they serve.

“I don’t want to answer any questions,” the farmer said as one of our impact surveyors approached him. “Here you come to ask us the same silly questions that you go sell to aid sponsors…. You’ll ask me my name, my family size, the kinds of goods I have, and so on, and so on.… Go take the answers from the [other organizations’ surveys] we provided last year.”

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Topics: West Africa, Impact Assessment, Willy Foote

New Tools to Assess Social and Environmental Practices in Smallholder Supply Chains

Posted by Elizabeth Teague  |  Mar 3, 2015 5:40:00 PM

One year ago, we published our inaugural issue brief on the emerging business case for financial institutions to conduct due diligence on the social and environmental practices of their borrowers and investees. To stimulate a broader dialogue on the topic, we also released the social and environmental scorecards that Root Capital loan officers use to evaluate the performance of our clients: small and growing businesses (SGBs) that aggregate and serve thousands of smallholder farmers.

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Topics: Climate Smart Agriculture, Leadership, Impact Assessment

From Guatemala: Three Ideas for Improved Agricultural Training

Posted by Elizabeth Teague  |  Jan 16, 2015 3:43:00 PM

Executive_Summary_Cover-1This is the fourth in a series of posts that take a closer look at the results of our latest impact study: Improving Rural Livelihoods: A Study of Four Guatemalan Cooperatives. 

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. 

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Topics: Climate Smart Agriculture, Central America, Impact Assessment