Focus on OPIC Impact Award Winners: Root Capital
In recent years as OPIC has increased its focus on renewable resources, it has supported investments not just in renewable energy sources like solar and wind power, but also in clean water, forest preservation and sustainable agriculture, which are all essential to feeding a growing planet.
There may be no resource more fundamental than food, but many of the world’s poor small scale farmers face significant challenges growing, harvesting, storing and getting their farm yields to markets. Around the world, almost two billion people live in rural areas beyond the reaches of modern infrastructure. They are dependent on small scale subsistence farming for food and income.
Root Capital, which was awarded the Impact Award for non-energy renewable resources, is a longstanding OPIC partner that has supported thousands of these farmers from Latin America to Sub-Saharan Africa to Asia. Root provides small loans when commercial finance is not available, along with training and support to help farmers not only produce more food but connect to larger markets. With Root’s support, many of these small farmers have been able to sell to major food retailers like Whole Foods and Starbucks.
“There is great potential of farmer cooperatives and agricultural businesses to transform the livelihoods and sustain the environment at the grass roots level,” Root Founder and CEO Willy Foote said upon accepting the Impact Award. Foote described OPIC as “a smart, practical, high-impact government institution that has enabled Root to serve one million farm households.”
Today, Root has $100 million in active loans supporting very small farmers from Bolivia to Guatemala, Swaziland and Rwanda.
Here are the faces of a few of them.