Root Capital

1 min read
01 Jan 2024

Sector: Agriculture (cocoa, maize, cassava, soy, sorghum)

We invest in the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. We build long-term relationships and provide enterprises with the resources they need to grow, such as reliable access to financing and tailored advisory services.

Root Capital was founded in 1999 by Willy Foote, a journalist-turned-social- entrepreneur. The firm has provided over $1.4 billion in loans to more than seven hundred businesses across Africa, southeast Asia and Latin America. It is backed by global private equity investors, including impact investors, NGOs and philanthropic organizations. Root Capital’s focus is on providing growing rural agricultural businesses with loans of up to $1.5 million and advisory services to scale operations and solidify global value chains.

In 2013, Root Capital started working with cooperatives producing cocoa, maize, rice and soy in West Africa. Before lending, it evaluates the social impact of a loan, including the number of farmers and producers in the business chain. “Our target market is lifting up the farmers and those that depend on them,” says James Nyambok, head of lending and general manager, East Africa. Cooperatives interested in securing funding can attend training and information sessions for farmers and businesses run by the business-development team. Even if an applicant doesn’t meet the loan requirements, they can apply for advisory services and receive support to improve their financial and stakeholder management.

In addition to providing funding, Root Capital works with selected cooperatives on their value chains. “We solidify value chains and encourage the cooperatives to have an end buyer,” says James. This approach supports the large number of subsistence farmers in Africa and helps them to plan for future seasons. James believes that with this model, cooperatives can support more farmers, and each farmer can earn more income from their yields. In 2016, Root Capital partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to provide loans and increase the income of 300,000 farmers in West Africa over the course of five years.


  • Meet our loan and advisory requirements. We provide loans to agricultural businesses that have an impact on smallholder farmers. Businesses must prove they’ve been operating for at least three years and have the accompanying financial statements, minimum annual revenues of of $250,000 and strong commercial relationships with buyers.
  • Show us your value chain. We want to understand the farmers you support and the number of companies buying your product.
  • Demonstrate equitable practices. We look for businesses that elevate women and young people into positions of power and seek their input in decision-making processes.
  • Prove you have good relationships. We value businesses that have proven relationships with domestic and international buyers.
  • Be growth oriented. Our credit and capacity-building equip businesses to scale within their region or increase the services they can provide to the farmers they serve.

Application can be sent via:

Main photo by Root Capital