At this year’s Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) exposition, the world’s largest gathering of coffee professionals, all eyes were on Sopacdi, a coffee cooperative in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Root Capital client. Honored with the 2014 SCAA Sustainability Award, Sopacdi took center stage with its story of revival, growth and hope in the midst of a country ravaged by years of civil war and unthinkable violence.
Founded in 2002, today Sopacdi provides its 5,200 members – 1,450 of whom are women – with access to specialty coffee markets, including the UK retailer Sainsbury’s via Twin Trading, a trail-blazing trading company that was instrumental in helping Sopacdi farmers develop the capacity to produce premium-quality coffee. For this and its work connecting Sopacdi members—some of the most marginalized coffee farmers in the world—to higher paying global markets, Twin was recognized alongside Sopacdi with the SCAA Sustainability Award.
Root Capital began financing Sopacdi and two other Congolese coffee cooperatives early last year, and as we gladly reported in the Quarterly Performance Report we published last week, all three loans were paid off in January. We’re now in the process of underwriting new loans for Sopacdi and our other Congolese clients for the upcoming harvest season. In the DRC, government troops backed by the UN forces might still be at odds with rebels, but coffee farmers are succeeding thanks to a reviving Congolese coffee industry and smallholder farmer associations like Sopacdi.
Our hats go off to Twin and Sopacdi for sharing the 2014 SCAA Sustainability Award honor, and more importantly, for helping to bringing peace, hope and better livelihoods to battle-scarred Congolese farmers.