Jane Wales, chair of the Clinton Global Initiative’s poverty alleviation working group, recognized William Foote, president and founder of Root Capital, and Michael Dupee, vice president of corporate social Rresponsibility for GMCR, on stage as part of a session focused on cutting-edge efforts to enhance agricultural productivity and inventive models that help small farmers gain access to markets.
Green Mountain Coffee made a commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative to support Root Capital’s efforts to expand its financial training with a five-year, $450,000 grant--the largest single grant in the coffee company’s history. Since its launch, Root Capital has provided more than $100 million in loans to cash-strapped farmers, artisans, and other small-holder producers, including nearly $50 million specifically to Green Mountain Coffee suppliers.
After six years of lending activity, Root Capital realized that these enterprises need more than credit to improve livelihoods in the long term. Many grassroots businesses in the developing world lack basic financial management skills and the ability to apply for and manage capital from local banks. In 2006, with Green Mountain Coffee’s support, Root Capital launched a pilot financial education and training program in northern Latin America to develop basic financial and management skills among members and leaders of 50 grassroots businesses. Twelve of these enterprises are Green Mountain Coffee suppliers, representing over 10,000 members.
“Root Capital’s innovative work in providing financial services to the underserved global community of grassroots businesses has helped us better serve all our stakeholders and meet our own goals around reducing poverty and hunger in the communities we touch,” says Dupee. “Our partnership helps create economic opportunity, supports entrepreneurial activity, and provides economic incentives for sustainable natural resource management in rural communities worldwide.”
As part of its continued dedication to supporting the coffee-growing communities that make up its supply chain, Green Mountain Coffee’s announced commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative will support Root Capital in the next critical growth stage of the program. Through this partnership, Green Mountain Coffee will enable Root Capital’s launch of the program in South America and Africa, addressing the immediate need for strong financial management within grassroots businesses, while building the long-term financial capacity of entire rural communities. In total, from 2009 to 2012 Root Capital will build the financial expertise among the leaders of 150 grassroots businesses, representing nearly 100,000 farmers and artisans in 12 countries.
“We are tremendously appreciative of Green Mountain Coffee’s support and the Clinton Global Initiative’s recognition of our work,” says Foote. “With access to markets, financial services, and financial training, together we will enable rural communities to lift themselves out of poverty while strengthening the health of our planet.”