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Sustaining the Environment

Sustaining the Environment

Since the early 1980s, a quarter of all farmland on earth has been lost to erosion and desertification. One result: destruction of farmland could drive 60 million people to flee Sub-Saharan Africa in search of food.

Without access to capital and viable markets for their crops, small-scale farmers in the developing world are trapped in a cycle of poverty. Rural poverty often takes an environmental toll, as survival tactics such as illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture degrade the ecosystems upon which farmers depend. Sustainable rural livelihoods depend on the preservation of biodiversity and the health of ecosystems.

Root Capital supports small and growing businesses that employ responsible environmental practices such as training farmers in sustainable production techniques or utilizing clean and appropriate technologies. By providing capital and financial training to small and growing businesses that value environmental stewardship, Root Capital builds sustainable livelihoods in Africa and Latin America.


  • One hundred miles northwest of Accra, Ghana, sits Asuom, a village of surprising and beautiful contrasts and contradictions.

  • 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.

  • Copiasuro is an association of fair trade honey producers located in the highlands of Guatemala. One of the first participants in Root Capital’s financial training program, Copiasuro has enjoyed a growth in volume, sales and community impact in recent years. Today, the cooperative boasts a membership of 175 beekeepers who manage, on average, more than 75 beehives each.

  • A longtime Root Capital client, C.A.C. Chirinos coffee cooperative provides top-notch services to its members in the Cajamarca region of Peru and premium coffee to specialty buyers in the United States and Europe. Confronted with challenges like climate change and market volatility, C.A.C. Chirinos has taken many proactive measures to ensure the continued resilience, productivity and profitability of its 600 members.

  • Guatemala is the world’s third-largest exporter of snow peas and sugar snap peas, and indigenous farmers living in the highlands produce 99 percent of the crops. Gaining access to fair trade vegetable markets can make a big difference for these farmers, who are among the nation’s most impoverished, with 70 percent living below the international poverty line. Indigenous populations in Guatemala also have one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world.

  • Nestled in the buffer zone of the El Triunfo Biosphere in Chiapas, Mexico, Triunfo Verde is a coffee cooperative that grows organic and fair trade-certified coffee. In 2000, Triunfo Verde was a new cooperative of fewer than 100 members with a young management structure. Today, it has more than 346 members, and it is known for its transparent accounting and management practices.

  • COOPCAB, a Fair Trade coffee cooperative and Root Capital client, operates in one of Haiti’s few remaining tracts of rainforest in a country where less than 1.5 percent of the land is forested. Through its reforestation program and purchase of fairly priced specialty coffee, COOPCAB provides a powerful link between environmental conservation and economic benefit for its 5,000 producer members.

  • Organic Blooming is an Ecuadorian company that produces and exports organic calla lilies. Founded in 2003, the business owns a farm with approximately 200,000 plants. The farm has achieved organic certification, and the company is committed to environmentally sound agricultural practices, to the furthering of biodiversity in the area, and to a socially responsible attitude regarding its employees.