Root Capital: Investing in Youth in Mexico and Central Americal

Year of Grant: 2017

Location: USA

Fieldwork: Mexico and Central America

Root Capital (RC) specializes in the sectors of agriculture, forest, fisheries and handcraft. It was founded in 1999 by Willy Foote and has disbursed more than $900 million in credit to over 600 businesses around the world. To date, RC has delivered financial management education and technical assistance to over 800 grassroots businesses in 19 countries and their loans have helped improve incomes for over one million farmers.

Across the developing world, the average age of a farmer is 60 – and as much as 40% of working-age youth are unemployed. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to surpass 9 billion, and the majority of this growth will take place in developing countries. 

To feed this population, farmers will need to boost global food production by an estimated 60%. These demographic trends could either signal a severe crisis or an enormous opportunity to employ millions of job-seeking youths. Yet, young people are migrating out of agricultural communities at an alarming rate in search of jobs in urban areas, preventing them from contributing their talents to the communities that most stand to benefit from them.

RC seeks to support the needs of young people and unlock their capacity for innovation in rural agricultural communities. The grantee will incorporate this program alongside their current programmatic activities taking place in Mexico and Central America (MAC) which is where they see a need for job creation targeted towards young people. 

The project will be part of their Coffee Farmer Resilience Initiative 2.0, which seeks to enhance self-determination and competitiveness of agricultural businesses and farmers. It will enable young people to apply creative, technology-driven solutions to the complexities of agriculture while spurring employment opportunities.