Root Capital, Keurig Dr Pepper, USAID and Ezrah Charitable Trust will help 150,000 farmers across Africa, Latin America and Indonesia; to withstand the current pandemic and build their resiliency for years to come.
While vaccines continue to emerge, theoretically winding down the COVID-19 crisis that swallowed 2020, those most affected by the pandemic on an economic level will undoubtedly be working to regain their ground for the indefinite future. Business and brand leaders have been stepping up to help throughout the pandemic — and, most recently, Visa extended its support of minority-led small businesses; and 45 members of the Consumer Goods Forum committed to provide local aid to communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Now, Root Capital has launched the three-year Partnership for Sustainable Supply Chains — in collaboration with Keurig Dr Pepper, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Ezrah Charitable Trust — to help tackle the complex challenges faced by farmers of commodity crops relied on by the food and beverage industries. The Partnership will provide financial support and advisory services to agricultural businesses such as coffee — representing 150,000 farmers in 12 countries across Africa, Latin America and Indonesia — to help them to survive the current pandemic and build their resiliency for years to come.
“With the onset of COVID-19, the ability of small and growing businesses in the agriculture sector to provide critical employment, continued income generation, protection of vulnerable ecosystems and essential services to rural communities has never been more vital,” said Willy Foote, founder and CEO of Root Capital. “From Peru to the Democratic Republic of Congo, these enterprises are under enormous strain. Yet, with support, they have met the challenge head-on — not only maintaining their business operations, but also protecting both the lives and livelihoods of their farmers and employees.”
Over the next three years, the Partnership will focus on helping smallholder farm businesses withstand the immediate COVID-19 crisis, recover in the medium-term and re-imagine their strategies for growth and success in the long-term “next normal.” Together, the Partnership will aim to strengthen smallholder farmer resilience through:
advisory services that respond to the most urgent challenges of smallholder farm businesses, adapted to this era of remote service delivery;
small grants to address cash-flow constraints and meet the emergency needs of rural communities; and
flexible credit via patient loan terms, interest rate relief and debt forgiveness for enterprises most at risk.
“By leveraging our longstanding partnership with Root Capital, we were able to quickly pivot to support those in our supply chain most vulnerable to the threats of COVID-19 and ongoing challenges such as climate change and food insecurity,” said Monique Oxender, Chief Sustainability Officer for Keurig Dr Pepper. “Our contribution to the Partnership for Sustainable Supply Chains is an extension of our deep-rooted commitment to partnering with our coffee-growing communities to improve livelihoods and safeguard the future of coffee; and will help to support business continuity and resiliency for our coffee suppliers.”
The Partnership for Sustainable Supply Chains builds on the progress and lessons learned from the Partnership for Sustainable Coffee — a three-year collaboration in which Keurig Dr Pepper, Root Capital and USAID reached 330,000 smallholder coffee farmers and their families through Root’s lending and advisory services.
The Partnership for Sustainable Supply Chains will be complemented by a $35 million loan guarantee from the US International Development Finance Corporation, to improve Root Capital’s lending capacity by mitigating the perceived risk associated with lending to these agricultural businesses.