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Growing Farmer Incomes in Uganda through Financial Training and Access to Credit

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Gumutindo, which translates to “excellent coffee” in the local Lugisu language, is a second-level Ugandan coffee cooperative founded in 2003. Located on the slopes of Mount Elgon in Eastern Uganda, it markets the coffee of six smaller primary cooperatives directly to Fair Trade and organic buyers in Europe and North America. With Root Capital financing, revenue has increased from $473 thousand to over $3 million, with payments to producers more than doubling.

Client Profile: Gumutindo

Gumutindo sources its coffee from 2,500 Bagisu tribesmen in the humid forests of rural Uganda. Gumutindo is both Fair Trade and organic certified, creating opportunities for its members to access premium prices that have helped grow and sustain their incomes.

Gumutindo member Robert Gonyi has more than doubled his coffee yield since joining the cooperative in 2003. He earns more than 70 percent of his household income from growing coffee, which he uses to support 10 children. He invested some of his coffee earnings in a small shop that sells basic food items and supplies and, in 2007, he purchased an additional plot of land in order to expand his coffee production.

Root Capital became Gumutindo’s first lender in 2005, providing a loan of $95,000. The cooperative grew rapidly over the following years. Between 2004 and 2011, revenue increased from $473 thousand to over $3 million, the number of farmers selling their crops to Gumutindo increased from 2,500 to 6,750, and annual payments to those farmers increased from $400 thousand to $2.3 million, more than doubling the amount per producer. Root Capital also provided financial management training to Gumutindo in cash management, accounting, and internal controls.

Gumutindo’s success creates ripple effects throughout its community. At one primary cooperative, farmers launched a savings and credit cooperative through which women infected with HIV/AIDS save 500 shillings each week (about 50 cents) to feed their families if staple food crops fail. They contribute another 500 shillings to an endowment fund for their farmer cooperative’s elementary school. Half of the children at the school are orphans, largely due to HIV/AIDS, and the school was founded to take care of and educate the women’s children if they die.