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Launching Youth Leadership Development Advisory Services in Rural Ghana

Posted by Kate Hyder  |  Apr 20, 2017 2:33:16 PM

A focus group of youth leaders in agriculture in Tamale, Ghana.

Other than the fact that dresses and headscarves made of brightly patterned kente cloth dotted the room, the scene could have been from a young professionals’ networking event in San Francisco or Boston: 11 millennials, gathered into small focus groups in a hotel conference room, discussing what leadership meant to them.

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Topics: West Africa, Advisory Services

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, Pathological Collaboration, Willy Foote

"We Cannot Succeed When Half of Us Are Held Back"

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Mar 22, 2016 8:00:00 AM

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With ANS Milling General Manager Kate Achaa, fourth from right, during a recent trip to Ghana with Root Capital colleagues and friends from PFS

“I raise up my voice,” she said, speaking matter-of-factly into the microphone during her first speech at the United Nations back in 2013, “not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard... We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

She, of course, is Malala. A 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, to be exact.

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Topics: Food Security & Nutrition, Women in Agriculture, West Africa, Willy Foote

How Extension Services Drive Business Success

Posted by Elizabeth Teague  |  Mar 10, 2016 1:37:36 PM

In December, we published an issue brief focused on the potential of small-and-growing businesses to create shared value for entire supply chains through their agricultural extension services. When delivered effectively, extension services can serve public objectives related to improved farmer livelihoods and environmental conservation, as well as commercial objectives related to procurement and supply chain risk mitigation.

In this post, we discuss one example of successful shared value extension from our portfolio.

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Agriaccess General Manager Tony Poore speaking to one of the Agriaccess farmer groups about an upcoming input delivery

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Topics: Food Security & Nutrition, Climate Smart Agriculture, West Africa, Issue Brief Series

The Mango Farmer Who Changed Everything

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Oct 29, 2015 7:00:00 AM

Mango farmer, Burkina Faso

A few years ago, a mango farmer in Burkina Faso told us something that forever changed the way we interact with our clients and the farmers they serve.

“I don’t want to answer any questions,” the farmer said as one of our impact surveyors approached him. “Here you come to ask us the same silly questions that you go sell to aid sponsors…. You’ll ask me my name, my family size, the kinds of goods I have, and so on, and so on.… Go take the answers from the [other organizations’ surveys] we provided last year.”

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Topics: West Africa, Impact Assessment, Willy Foote

In the West African Sahel, Women Stand Like Giants

Posted by Willy Foote  |  Jul 9, 2015 9:00:00 AM

The baobab trees of West Africa, gigantic in size and majestic in stature, are providers: They store water and food for animals in times of drought; they provide homes for birds (owls, parakeets and hawks) throughout the year; and, for many local families, the mighty baobab produces fruit, seeds and leaves that provide a critical source of income.

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Just starting a Root Capital due diligence trip in northern Senegal, beside the mighty baobab tree.

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Topics: Food Security & Nutrition, Women in Agriculture, West Africa, Willy Foote