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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

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

Laying the First Stones towards Gender Equity

Posted by Asya Troychansky  |  Nov 16, 2016 9:31:00 AM

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Women carry stones that will form the foundation of a new sorghum collection and storage center. 

As part of my role with Root Capital, I’m privileged to travel to remote areas in Africa and Latin America to meet with our clients and the smallholder farmers at the core of their business. Recently, I was in Meru, Kenya, with my colleague Erick Sakwa, Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture coordinator for East Africa.

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Topics: East Africa, Women in Agriculture

Cultivating the Next Crop of Agricultural Entrepreneurs

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

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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

Investing in Uganda’s Coffee Sector

Posted by Richard T. 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