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In the Hills of Northeast Congo, an Underdog Steps into the Ring

Posted by Richard T. Tugume  |  Feb 7, 2017 7:00:00 AM

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Hills rise into the sky in the coffeelands of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Looking out the window as my taxi jostles along a bumpy dirt road that winds from Goli to Ndrele town through the hills of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), I’m struck by the peaceful scenery that surrounds us. Grassy hills spotted with groves of trees and small gardens of banana, maize, and coffee trees rise gently into the horizon, stretching for miles on either side of the road. However, this region’s apparent tranquility belies a violent past — and scars that a few scrappy businesses are fighting against all odds to heal. 

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Topics: East Africa, Peace & Recovery

How One Pioneering Business is Raising Incomes in the Kenyan Highlands

Posted by Will McAneny  |  Jan 27, 2017 9:48:10 AM

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Janet Karea Mutuura, 62, at her compound in Meru, Kenya. 

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Topics: Food Security & Nutrition, East Africa, Women in Agriculture

Sparking a Data Revolution in the Peruvian Andes

Posted by Zehra Ijaz  |  Jan 24, 2017 6:00:00 AM

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Using tablet-based technology to conduct farmer-level surveys allows cooperative managers to analyze trends that inform better management decisions. 

In 2014, Root Capital was conducting routine household surveys with farmers in the Peruvian Andes to assess the impact of its work with UNICAFEC, a local coffee cooperative. Noting the tablets and digital surveys used by Root Capital’s research team, Alfredo Alarcón, UNICAFEC’s manager, made a simple request: could Root Capital teach his staff how to use similar technology to perform annual farm inspection audits, a burdensome requirement for organic certification?

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Topics: South America, Root Capital, Advisory Services, Mobile ICT

Making Agriculture Work for the Farmers of the Future

Posted by Alexandra Tuinstra  |  Jan 17, 2017 12:24:15 PM

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Noe Portillo of CAPUCAS, explaining how his cooperative is supporting farmers in diversifying into other crops like tomatoes. 

“If we don’t have coffee… well, we just have to look for another alternative.” In just a few words, CAPUCAS agronomist Noe Portillo perfectly sums up the practical and bold leadership that’s needed in coffee today.

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Topics: Central America, Leadership, Youth

Something Bigger Than Myself

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

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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

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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