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Empowering Women

Empowering Women

While women play an important role in food production worldwide, they have limited access to the resources necessary to effectively operate their farming operations.

Root Capital supports small and growing businesses that strengthen the social and economic position of small-scale farmers. Increasing women's participation in the rural economy is a powerful tool for poverty reduction and economic growth because female farmers tend to spend more money on nutritious foods, healthcare, education, and housing when their incomes increase. Beyond these material household benefits, businesses often use their social premiums to invest in areas of particular interest to women, including healthcare and education. Improving women’s economic opportunities also provides a sense of hope and purpose, increasing the status of women within their communities.

Read about our Women in Agriculture Initative

Stories

  • Produits du Sud is a Malian company that works with rural farmers to harvest and sell valuable resins from indigenous Gum Arabic and Gum Karaya trees. The business has been extremely successful and European demand for the products is high. Resin harvesting also offers the benefits of reforestation and the diminished removal of trees.

  • Consorcio Agro-artesanal Dulce Orgánico (CADO) is a cooperative of small-scale sugarcane growers in the Ecuadoran Andean region that distills organic alcohol from sugarcane for use in cosmetics. Through a combination of environment-friendly farming, gender-inclusive membership practices and positive social impact, CADO, led by its president Cecilia Arcos, has become the first ever exporter of fair trade and organic certified alcohol and has seen its sales volume nearly triple in the last two years. 

  • Pangoa is a Fair Trade and organic-certified coffee cooperative located in San Martín de Pangoa, Peru. Pangoa's 207 active members are small-scale farmers who cultivate shade-grown coffee, cocoa, and honey. A Root Capital client since 2006, Pangoa is well known for its innovative community programs and initiatives. The cooperative uses revenue from Fair Trade coffee sales to sponsor projects in reforestation, health, and education.

  • Since becoming a Root Capital client in 2010, AgroMantaro, an agro-processor of artichokes and jalapeños, has been able to increase production by 50 percent. By maintaining long-term customer relationships with buyers like General Mills, AgroMantaro provides steady incomes for hundreds of small-scale farmers and more than 600 employees at its processing plant.

  • Raymisa is a Peruvian producer and exporter of sustainable textiles, furniture, and home décor products. A Root Capital client since 2007, Raymisa provides traditional artisans with markets for their goods, increasing incomes for hundreds of artisans and their families. This helps to stabilize rural communities and to ensure that Peruvian crafts will be kept alive by a new generation of artisans.

  • In 2005, the Dukundekawa coffee cooperative, also known as Musasa, became Root Capital’s first client in Africa. Since its founding in 2004, Musasa has grown from 300 to more than 1,800 members—among them many women who were made widows by the 1994 genocide.

  • SumakLife, a Root Capital client since 2010, is an Ecuadoran cooperative that grows and processes organic quinoa. The cooperative provides technical assistance to members and purchases quinoa from 1,700 indigenous farmers, more than 60 percent of whom are women. By enabling rural women to earn fair trade and organic premiums for their crops, SumakLife helps them lead more prosperous, secure, and dignified lives.

  • CECOCAFEN, is a Fair Trade-certified association of more than 2,500 small-scale coffee producers in the North-Central highlands of Nicaragua. A Root Capital client since 2003, CECOCAFEN actively supports gender inclusion through initiatives such as savings group for women, which provide 600 women producers with access to micro-loans and household savings products.

  • PRODECOOP’s motto—“Behind every cup of coffee, there is a family”—inspires this cooperative’s gender, education, and health programs for members and their families. PRODECOOP is a second-level coffee association serving 2,300 small-scale farmers in Nicaragua’s north-central mountains. A Root Capital client since 2003, they have received more than $9.5 million in loans.

  • “A woman’s independence can only be achieved through economic autonomy and awareness,” says Fatima Ismael, general manager of SOPPEXCCA, a Fair Trade and organically certified coffee grower cooperative located in the jungles of Jinotega, Nicaragua. The coffee cooperative is known for its emphasis on gender inclusion and the empowerment of women farmers; 40 percent of its members are women.

  • The Liberian Women’s Sewing Project (LWSP) is a sustainable apparel manufacturer based in Monrovia, Liberia. Established in 2009, the company is part-owned and operated by Liberian women. The organization directs 75 percent of its profits toward community development projects. The remaining profits stay within the enterprise, allowing each worker to build equity over time. In 2010, Root Capital was LWSP’s first source of financing.

  • Founded in 2006, Savannah Fruits Company is a private enterprise that exports shea butterwith the goal of creating more direct commercial links between shea butter producers and the global cosmetic ingredient markets. With financing from Root Capital, Savannah Fruits is helping to ensure that Ghanaian women shea producers receive training in quality control and consistent access to premium prices in global markets.