Acumen invested US$876k in Acceso Colombia, a local agribusiness working with smallholder farmers, through its Investing for Peace Fund, in partnership with USAID.
(Press Release) Acumen announced today a $876,000 USD investment in Acceso Oferta Local – Productos de Colombia (“Acceso Colombia”). Based in Colombia, Acceso Colombia works with smallholder farmers in the Andean and Caribbean regions to source fruits and vegetables and sell to national retailers and food service companies including Grupo Éxito, Jeronimo Martins, Olímpica, and Sodexo. This is the fifth investment for the Investing for Peace Fund, a joint effort between Acumen and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote private investment in social enterprises to catalyze economic growth in Colombia’s conflict-affected regions.
Acceso Colombia aims to improve farmers’ incomes and lift them out of poverty through establishing secure, consistent markets for their products. Among Acceso Colombia’s network are farmers who are displaced or victims of conflict, Afro-Colombians, and women. Acceso Colombia provides technical assistance to farmers; purchases their products at fair prices; operates multiple warehouses for product storage and processing; and plans and manages all logistics routes for deliveries to its clients. Acceso Colombia also supported the implementation of several community processing centers to provide livelihood opportunities to local communities including farmers’ wives, single mothers who are heads of household, and unemployed youth. These processing centers are run and owned by the community. Services provided include washing, processing, and packaging of products. Being market-driven, Acceso Colombia provides its clients, such as Grupo Éxito, quality assurance and sustainably sourced local products, contributing to local economic development. Acceso Colombia has positively impacted more than 1,200 farmers to date and purchased over 12 million pounds of produce in 2018.
Acceso Colombia was established in 2015 by the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, that builds social agribusinesses to bring entrepreneurial solutions to global poverty. CGEP builds from scratch, invests start-up capital, and manages agribusinesses that work with smallholder farmers. In the last five years, CGEP has built businesses in Colombia, El Salvador, and Haiti and is currently exploring replication in several new geographies. CGEP will be bringing to the market several additional high impact investment opportunities over the next few years. Acceso Colombia’s early investors were CGEP and Fundación Carlos Slim who were interested in testing a pioneering agribusiness approach to poverty alleviation for smallholder farmers.
Colombia has made considerable strides in reducing poverty and extreme poverty; however, there remains a persistent gap between urban and rural areas As recently as 2017, census research has demonstrated that 36 percent of Colombians in rural areas are still living in poverty, with the extreme poverty rate in rural areas nearly four times that of urban areas. Smallholder farmers in rural areas face challenges in accessing adequate tools and quality inputs like seeds to improve their yields and crop quality. They also have limitations in accessing secure markets due to working capital constraints, lack of information about formal markets, and many levels of intermediation with little value being returned to them. Acceso Colombia first secures purchase agreements with buyers that provides for favorable prices to farmers; it is then able to purchase farmers’ produce at fair prices. Acceso Colombia’s model showcases an innovative, end-to-end approach to delivering value to smallholder farmers that can be replicated in other geographies.
“Acceso Colombia’s is playing a critical role in building local value chains and connecting rural Colombia with strong, national markets. It is positively improving the incomes of farmers as well as surrounding communities in a sustainable way. Acumen is proud to support Acceso Colombia,” said Virgilio Barco, Acumen’s Latin America Director.
“We are excited for Acceso Colombia’s new partnership with Acumen. Acumen shares our goal of transforming value chains with smallholder farmers using a sustainable, market-based model and we look forward to growing the business and its impact together,” said James Jenkin, CEO of CGEP.
“We are pleased about Acumen’s investment in one of our first agribusinesses. Our ability to attract investment capital confirms that our unique model works and is the final step in achieving proof of concept after years of testing and building. Building agribusinesses not only creates social impact but is a sustainable, scalable, and replicable solution for smallholder farmers,” said Frank Giustra, co-founder of CGEP.
The Investing for Peace Fund directs capital and debt investments through Acumen into early-stage companies that demonstrate the capacity to have widespread impact on the country’s marginalized, poor rural populations. This investment will be used to support Acceso Colombia’s growth, through investment in working capital, driving increased scale, and improving operational efficiency to build a robust platform for long-term sustainable growth. This will be the basis for extending its operations into post-conflict regions in the future.
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Acumen is an impact investment fund with a vision to help build a world beyond poverty through investing in companies that deliver critical goods and services in health, energy, agriculture, and education. Acumen has invested more than $110 million of patient capital in more than 110 mission-driven businesses in South Asia, East Africa, West Africa and Latin America, that have collectively served more than 250 million customers. Acumen has teams on the ground in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, Colombia, London, San Francisco and New York, and aims to build strong local structures that are deeply interconnected, with shared goals and values.
About Acceso Colombia
Acceso Colombia works with smallholder farmers in the Andean and Caribbean regions to source fruits and vegetables and sell to national retailers and food service companies including Grupo Éxito, Jeronimo Martins, Olímpica, and Sodexo. Acceso Colombia provides technical assistance; purchases farmers’ products at fair prices; operates multiple warehouses for product storage and processing; and plans and manages all logistics routes for deliveries to its clients. Acceso Colombia has worked with more than 1,200 farmers to date.
About the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP)
CGEP is a social business builder that brings entrepreneurial solutions to global poverty. CGEP builds from scratch, invests start-up capital, and manages agribusinesses that work with smallholder farmers and fishers. CGEP improves the livelihoods of farmers and farming communities by improving agricultural productivity, creating job opportunities, and facilitating long-term market linkages. CGEP has impacted more than 13,000 farmers and farm workers directly, and more than 33,000 people including their families.