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Root Capital Selected as 2008 Social Capitalist Award Winner


Fast Company Magazine and Monitor Group Recognize Organization's Innovation and Growth.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 7 December 2007 – Fast Company magazine and Monitor Group announced that they have awarded a 2008 Social Capitalist Award to Root Capital, a social investment fund that provides affordable credit and financial education to grassroots businesses--such as farmer cooperatives, handcraft producer associations, and ecotourism enterprises--in the developing world. Launched in 2000, Root Capital's mission is to fight rural poverty and conserve natural resources by supporting businesses that foster environmental stewardship and increase income and market access for the rural poor, who account for 70% of the 2.7 billion people living on less than $2 a day.

Root Capital encourages sustainable agriculture, and the enterprises to whom they lend often sell their products to companies like Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Whole Foods. In addition to its core lending activities, Root Capital addresses the critical need for basic business training and financial education among grassroots businesses in its target regions. Launched in Mexico and Central America in 2006, the financial education program will be replicated in South America and Africa beginning in 2008.

"We're honored by this recognition of our work in helping much-needed capital and capacity building reach rural enterprises," said Founder and President William F. Foote. "To date, Root Capital has provided over $70 million in loans to more than 160 rural enterprises across 26 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Over 99% of these loans have been repaid. We're proud that the use of business best practices has enabled us to expand our efforts and reach a growing number of rural communities."

This year's Social Capitalist Awards feature 45 non-profits who use the tools of business to solve the world's most pressing social problems - ranging from poor healthcare in developing nations to unequal education access, homelessness, unemployment and substance abuse in the United States - and who have demonstrated a consistent and unusually large impact on society.

For five years, Fast Company has partnered with global consulting firm Monitor Group to identify, evaluate, and celebrate top-performing nonprofit organizations. The Awards assess social entrepreneurial organizations of different sizes and ages across social sectors as an explicit effort to further performance measurement and accountability in the social sector in a highly rigorous, data driven, comparative approach. Organizations are rated on five critical components: social impact, entrepreneurship, innovation, aspiration and growth, and sustainability, based on an application that included two years of operating and audited financial data, a statement of mission and objectives, and answers to a survey to assess strategy and activities. Winners were selected by an independent advisory board of sector experts.
"This year we've seen an explosion of diverse experiments, many of them engineered by onetime Wall Street heavies, that attempt to bring new capital - and capital-market dynamics - to the realm of social good," said Fast Company Contributing Writer Keith Hammonds. "Through these deals, social entrepreneurs and businesses are raising the stakes, creating both business and social impact, and changing old-style capitalism as we know it."

The winners are featured in Fast Company's December/January 2008 issue (on newsstands December 4 - Jan. 22, 2008) and will be recognized during a ceremony at the Westin Washington D.C. City Center on Jan. 8, 2008.

To view more information about Root Capital's Social Capitalist Award, visit

Friday, December 14, 2007