How We’re Continuing to Support Rural Businesses and Smallholder Farmers During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Rural businesses and smallholder farmers are the heart of rural communities, a vital part of the economy that needs to continue functioning during the novel Coronavirus outbreak. This is how Root Capital using digital technology helps to stay in close proximity with businesses it supports when all travel is suspended.

As individuals, communities, and organizations, we are all adapting to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Root Capital and the agricultural businesses we support are no exception; which is why we’re doing everything we can to continue advancing our mission during this uncertain time.

Small and growing businesses are the heart of rural communities—a vital organ that must continue functioning for the whole to thrive. At this very moment, agricultural enterprises across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia are hard at work.

In Guatemala, they’re processing the last of the coffee harvest.

In Kenya, they’re creating local markets for fortified grains.

In Indonesia, they’re training farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. If this work stops, smallholder farmers and their families will suffer.

At Root Capital, we are adapting our services to ensure our client agricultural businesses can

(1) access the credit and capacity building they need, and

(2) remain resilient in the face of possible market shocks.

While we have temporarily closed our global offices, our staff continues to serve our partners in rural communities. Working remotely via our cloud-based systems, we are maintaining all of our operations—from risk management to loan monitoring, from advisory services to impact measurement.

Related topics: Climate Emergency and COVID-19 – Large-scale impacts from agricultural innovations – Connecting People With Nature in Times of Social Isolation

To ensure rural businesses have necessary working capital, our lending and treasury staff are fully operational for regular loan servicing. We do not currently expect any delays in processing disbursement requests for active loans. With staff unable to conduct in-person due diligence visits, there may be delays in processing new loan applications. Delays may also occur for loans that are in closing, or that are being restructured or modified, due to closures of registrars, notaries, and postal services in different countries.

We are committed to providing regular status updates to new and active lending clients to ensure their business operations are minimally affected.

In some cases, we are temporarily changing the way we do business.

Proximity has always been vital to the work that we do—we go where others don’t, to the end of the dirt road and the most remote rural communities. While we’ve suspended all travel for the moment, we intend to stay in close proximity to our rural partners by leveraging digital technology.

Over the last several years, we have made significant investments in digitizing our own operations and that of many of our clients. Through these investments and the long-term relationship we have with hundreds of agricultural enterprises, we are able to provide support from afar to our clients.

Our advisory services team is currently working with individual businesses to determine which trainings can be done remotely.

To our whole global community: Thank you for standing with us and with farming families across the world.

In times of uncertainty, we draw strength from working together. To our whole global community: Thank you for standing with us and with farming families across the world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of Photo Credit: Sean Hawkey

About the Author /

Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises so they can transform rural communities. These businesses purchase crops such as coffee, cocoa, or grains from smallholder farmers. With growth, they become engines of impact that can raise incomes, create jobs, empower women and young people, sustain peace, and preserve vulnerable ecosystems.

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