Last week, I had the honor of representing Green Mountain Coffee Roasters at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, as we made a joint Commitment to Action with Root Capital to improve the financial literacy and management skills of rural-based businesses in Latin America and Africa, which include many of Green Mountain Coffee’s coffee suppliers.
Jane Wales, Chair of the Clinton Global Initiative’s poverty alleviation working group, recognized William Foote, President and Founder of Root Capital, and me, on behalf of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, 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.
Our commitment was 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.
In 2006, with our support, Root Capital launched a pilot financial education and training program in northern Latin America and has since provided financial education to 1,300 business leaders from 50 grassroots businesses in northern Latin America.
Our new commitment is part of our continued dedication to supporting the coffee-growing communities that make up our supply chain (learn more here) and will support Root Capital in the next critical growth stage of its innovative PorFin financial literacy program. Through this partnership, we 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.
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. Our partnership helps create economic opportunity, supports entrepreneurial activity, and provides economic incentives for sustainable natural resource management in rural communities worldwide.