Root Capital (rootcapital.org) is a nonprofit investment fund that backs small and growing agricultural businesses, allowing them to employ more rural farmers and pay them higher and more stable wages. Working in poor and environmentally vulnerable regions of Africa and Latin America, Root Capital uses loans, financial training, and market connections to sow the seeds of prosperity. Founded in 1999, Root Capital has lent $613 million to 484 businesses, improving livelihoods for nearly 1 million farm households. One such client, the Fair Trade and organic-certified Pangoa coffee cooperative, comprises 207 Peruvian farmers who now have a viable economic alternative to growing coca leaves, the source of cocaine, thanks to better access to the international coffee market.
The charity has earned a four-star overall rating from Charity Navigator, which rates not-for-profit organizations on the strength of their finances, their control of administrative and fundraising expenses, and the transparency of their operations. Four stars is the group’s highest rating.