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Willy Foote

Willy is the founder and CEO of Root Capital. He began his career on Wall Street as a financial analyst in Latin American corporate finance. Later, he worked as a business journalist in Mexico, where he discovered the challenges faced by cooperatives and small producers who lacked access to credit and markets. He founded Root Capital in 1999. Since then, Root Capital has grown to over 100 employees, with clients across Latin America and Africa, and $100 million in assets. Willy was named a Skoll Fellow in 2005, an Ashoka Global Fellow in 2007, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008, a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) in 2009, one of Forbes’ “Impact 30” in 2011, and currently belongs to the 2012 Henry Crown Fellowship Class of the Aspen Institute. He is on the Executive Committee of the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. William holds an M.S. in development economics from the London School of Economics and a B.A. from Yale University.

RECENT POSTS

Meet the New Chair of Root Capital’s Board

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Apr 5, 2019 9:44:15 AM

Ana Zacapa with Root Capital staff and clients in Chiapas, Mexico
Ana Zacapa (third from right) accompanies the Root Capital team to visit client agricultural businesses in southern Mexico.

In December 2017, I was in Chiapas State in southern Mexico when Root Capital’s Senior Manager of Advisory Services for the region, David Lozano, turned to me and said: “I’m so excited she’s on our board, asking such insightful questions—and in her native Spanish!” David was talking about Ana Zacapa, who was accompanying us deep into the mountains of Chiapas to visit coffee and honey cooperatives, and to hear directly from farmers both about the challenges they face and the innovative solutions they can access as part of an agricultural business.

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Topics: News and Announcements, Our Community

Three Things That Inspired Me In 2018

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Jan 11, 2019 11:11:51 AM

Happy New Year!

2018 was another impactful year for Root Capital. We worked with 200+ businesses to reach more than 625,000 farmers, connecting them to markets and services. Over the last 20 years, I've been consistently inspired by the tenacity and ingenuity of the agricultural enterprises we support—and last year was no exception. Here are just a few of the stories that made my jaw drop in 2018:

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Topics: Stories of Impact, Our Community

Root Capital Testifies to Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Jun 4, 2018 1:53:05 PM

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Alongside several pioneering organizations in development finance, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) recently testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of a market-based approach to foreign aid. Root Capital is proud to partner with OPIC to connect smallholder farmers to global markets. Our CEO and founder Willy Foote submitted the following written testimony in support of OPIC's work to place capital where it's needed most.

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Topics: Partnerships, News and Announcements

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, South America

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

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

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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, Partnerships, Stories of Impact

The World of Farmer Finance is Changing

Posted by Willy Foote  |  May 31, 2016 10:55:33 AM

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With Jose Dominguez, a coffee farmer and producer member of RAOS, a Root Capital client in Honduras

The world of farmer finance, as we know it, is changing.

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Topics: South America, Mexico and Central America, Partnerships