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

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

Coffee gardens on the hills on Eastern DRC-670182-edited.jpg

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

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

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 & Recovery, South America, Willy Foote

Bringing Opportunity to an Area Marked by Violent Past

Posted by Lauren Baum  |  Jan 8, 2016 2:48:27 PM


A young woman picks coffee on a farm associated with the Maya Ixil coop. Credit: Sean Hawkey

With towering oaks, gushing waterfalls and long green stretches of bountiful coffee trees, Guatemala’s Maya Ixil region is a place of lyrical beauty. But listen closely enough, and the lyrics tell an entirely different story – a story of an ugly past marked by heartbreaking violence.

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Topics: Peace & Recovery, Central America

Root Capital Client Sopacdi Brings Hope to the DRC

Posted by Root Capital  |  May 19, 2014 11:48:00 AM

Coffee wet processing at SOPACDI

Sopacdi, a Root Capital client since early 2013

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.  

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Topics: Peace & Recovery, Central Africa

Lending in the Congo: Inspiration from Rwanda

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Oct 30, 2013 3:27:00 PM

I am pleased to announce the launch of Back Roads to Boardrooms, an inside view of our day-to-day work and interactions with clients in Africa and Latin America, and the larger challenges and opportunities we face in scaling an impact-first agricultural lending operation. On a weekly basis, you will read diverse perspectives from our team of seasoned experts, along with some unique contributions from a suite of guest bloggers—ranging from Root board members to clients to global brands and leading philanthropists.

To kick things off, I’m proud to share my own reflections about our recent lending foray into the Democratic Republic of Congo and its parallels to our entry into post-conflict Rwanda eight years ago.  I hope you will comment and join the conversation!

Richard Tugume, Root Capital

Root Capital loan officer Richard Tugume in a canoe used by Root Capital client Sopacdi to shuttle between the cooperative's headquarters and its coffee-washing station on the shores of Lake Kivu, DRC

A thin ray of hope is emerging today from The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one of the most war-ravaged and anarchic countries in the world. 

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Topics: East Africa, Peace & Recovery, Women in Agriculture, Central Africa, Willy Foote