The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) has announced it is awarding its 2016 Leadership Medal of Merit to Willy Foote, founder and CEO of Root Capital, the pioneering agricultural investment firm that works to help create long-term prosperity for small-scale farmers throughout the world.
The CQI medal has been presented annually for the past decade during the Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo, which this year takes place April 14-17 in Atlanta. Past recipients include Sunalini Menon (Coffee Board of India), Timothy Schilling (World Coffee Research), Lindsey Bolger (Keurig Green Mountain) and Sergio Fajardo (Governor of Antioquia, Colombia). In the words of CQI, it is given to “an extraordinary person who embodies CQI’s mission to improve coffee quality and the lives of people who produce it.”
Root Capital was created as a means to provide fair loans, financial training and market access assistance to smallholder farmers in numerous agricultural sectors who might otherwise have few alternatives to sustainable financing outside of other middlemen with exorbitant interest rates.
“Willy Foote and Root Capital saw the incredible need to develop programs and training to get much needed financing to small coffee growers, many of whom are producing top quality coffee,” InterAmerican Coffee president and Root Capital partner Guy Burdett said in CQI’s announcement. “Root Capital took a tremendous risk to provide access to credit, and to date they have successfully loaned nearly one billion dollars to the people who need it most.”
For more on Foote, we suggest keeping up with his Forbes.com microsite, where he regularly pens contributions with titles such as “Tapping the Potential of the Artisan Economy” and “Let’s Stop Calling Everything ‘Social Entrepreneurship.'”