Root Capital

Cambridge, MA   |  www.rootcapital.org

Mission

Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. These businesses purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, or nuts from smallholder farmers. With growth, they become engines of impact that can raise incomes, create jobs, empower women and young people, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems.

Ruling year info

2001

Founder and CEO

Mr. William Foote

Main address

245 Main Street 2nd Floor

Cambridge, MA 02142 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Ecologic Finance Inc

EIN

04-3478123

NTEE code info

International Economic Development (Q32)

Economic Development (S30)

International Agricultural Development (Q31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In order to address some of the world's most fundamental challenges – feeding the future, preserving the planet, and securing peace – we need to focus on 2.5 billion people who depend on small-scale farming for their livelihoods. Many of them are farming to feed the rest of the world, yet they themselves are not getting enough to eat. Many live hundreds of miles from accessible markets, without the roads to reach them. Root Capital seeks to raise and stabilize the incomes of rural farmers by connecting them with the formal economy.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Finance

Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises that support smallholder farmers. We seek out enterprises whose credit needs are too big for microfinance and too small or risky for commercial banks. We provide loans ranging from about $200,000 to $2 million specially tailored to harvest and sales cycles. As part of our Women in Agriculture Initiative, we also specifically seek out and unlock the potential of businesses committed to inclusion of women.

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Economically disadvantaged people

To help businesses grow over the long-term, we mix our financing with highly-customized training to strengthen their financial management and governance. We help rural business leaders design inventory management systems and internal controls, improve accounting procedures, and strengthen financial reporting and analysis. We also supply training in environmental management, helping agronomists confront urgent environmental challenges like disease outbreaks or climate change and building the business’s capacity to offer technical assistance to their farmers. As part of our Women in Agriculture Initiative, we build women’s financial and agricultural knowledge so they can thrive, personally and professionally. We also support women-led design of new products and services that benefit the whole community.

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Economically disadvantaged people

We believe financial markets can reduce—rather than exacerbate—poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. Toward these ends, we advocate for financial institutions to quantitatively optimize social and environmental impact alongside financial risk and return, providing a blueprint through our "Efficient Impact Frontier." In addition, we work to create a thriving, sustainable, and transparent financial market to serve agricultural businesses through the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF), of which we are a founding member. Through this alliance of social lenders, we aim to grow the market that serves the vast financing need of the world’s 450 million smallholder farmers, promote responsible lending principles within that market, and maximize social and environmental impact in farming communities.

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of businesses developed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Farmers, Extremely poor people, Low-income people

Related Program

Advise

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Root Capital helps businesses overcome critical challenges through interactive, tailored training that helps them make strategic, financial, and operational improvements.

Number of farmer members of the Coop or suppliers of the SME/Enterprise that are producing crops/products and selling them to the SMEs/Coop/Enterprise

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Farmers, Extremely poor people, Low-income people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our loans and training help agricultural businesses grow during good times and withstand bad times. This growth enables them to purchase crops from more farmers.

Numer of businesses financed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Farmers, Extremely poor people, Low-income people

Related Program

Finance

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

We build long-term relationships with agricultural enterprises and provide them with the capital they need to grow.

Hectares under sustainable cultivation

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Extremely poor people, Low-income people, Farmers

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Ninety-seven percent of our lending is concentrated in environmental hotspots. We provide loans and training that help businesses and farmers invest in sustainable agriculture.

Total dollar value of payments to farmers of target crop sold as a result of the nonprofit's efforts

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Farmers, Extremely poor people, Low-income people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The businesses Root Capital supports creates higher, steady incomes for some of the world's most vulnerable farmers.

Number of women farmers reached

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Farmers, Women, Low-income people, Extremely poor people

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Root Capital supports the advancement of rural women, whether they work on the farm or in the boardroom. Through our Women in Agriculture Initiative, we seek holistic impact through gender inclusion.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our goal is to invest in the growth of the agricultural enterprises that support these farmers. With growth, these businesses become engines of impact that can raise incomes and create jobs, empower women and young people, sustain peace, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems.

We seek out enterprises whose credit needs are too big for microfinance and too small or risky for commercial banks. We provide loans ranging from about $200,000 to $2 million specially tailored to harvest and sales cycles. To help businesses grow over the long-term, we mix that financing with highly-customized training to strengthen their financial management, governance, and agronomic capacity.

Root Capital is a sector leader with decades of experience working with enterprises in the “missing middle” of agricultural finance. We operate throughout the world, with offices in Central America, South America, Africa, and an emerging presence in Southeast Asia. Our team members are recognized experts in agriculture and supply chains, credit and risk management, training methodology, impact measurement, systems change, and more.

Since we were founded in 1999, Root Capital has provided $1.5 billion in credit to more than 740 enterprises and built the capacity of almost 1,550 enterprises. In doing so, we have improved incomes and opportunities for almost 10 million people— all in the world’s most remote, vulnerable communities.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our mission focuses on the roughly 2.5 billion people worldwide who are dependent on small-scale farming for their livelihoods. Though they’re the backbone of rural economies, many are impoverished and food insecure due to their limited access to markets and services. Razor-thin margins leave them vulnerable to climate shocks, which are increasing every year. These challenges are compounded for rural women and youth. But as part of a local agricultural enterprise, rural communities can boost their livelihoods and invest in long-term resilience. We support the growth of these transformative enterprises in some of the world’s most economically and environmentally vulnerable places, across Latin America, Africa, and Indonesia.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In April and June 2020, we conducted two surveys of 130+ of our client agricultural enterprises to understand their challenges and needs in the face of COVID-19. With this knowledge, we were able to direct our response to where it was most needed and ensure that businesses could continue operating while keeping farmers and employees safe. Using the findings from our surveys, we disbursed emergency resilience grants to help businesses meet urgent health and economic needs (e.g., PPE, handwashing stations, food kits). We also adapted our advisory services to be 100% virtual and trained businesses in new skills, such as financial forecasting and safe harvesting/processing practices. Finally, we provided debt relief and loan restructuring to clients experiencing severe market shocks.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Root Capital consistently solicits feedback from the enterprises we serve through our anonymous "Voice of the Client" surveys, as well as impact studies and regular communications with enterprise leaders. This feedback has allowed us to identify challenges in our loan application, approval, and closing processes. As a result, we have implemented measures to make these processes more agile, which has resulted in higher client satisfaction. Clients regularly cite Root Capital as a partner that listens, cares, and tries to adapt to their needs.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Root Capital
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Root Capital

Board of directors
as of 8/17/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ana Zacapa

Philanthropy and Non-Profit Advisor

Jack Taylor

Equity Capital L.P.

Peggy Clark

The Aspen Institute

Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld

Cabot Properties

Jan Maarten-Mulder

Summer Capital

Eugene Weil

Houlihan Lokey

Grant Gund

Coppermine Capital

Ana Zacapa

Philanthropy and Non-Profit Advisor

Mary Barton-Dock

The World Bank

James Benenson

Summa Holdings, Inc.

C.D. Glin

U.S. African Development Foundation

Lindsey Bolger

Former Senior VP of Coffee, Keurig Trading

Marissa Wesely

Women Win

Ken Bartels

Paxton Properties, Inc.

Mario Fernandez

Specialty Coffee Association

Salah Goss

Mastercard

Scott McDonald

The ONE Campaign and (RED)

Macani Toungara

The Obama Foundation

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/19/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability