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Sol & Café

In 2008, a number of small farmer groups in northern Peru gathered together to found the Sol & Café cooperative with the goal of accessing higher prices on the international market. In 2009, the cooperative received a loan for $400k from Root Capital—their first from a future CSAF member—to finance their exports of 670 metric tons of coffee to three international buyers. Over the years, Sol & Café has diversified its financing— working with six CSAF lenders for loans totaling $12M in the latest harvest—and has used those partnerships to grow steadily, even in the face of economic, political, and climate risks.

In the mid-2010s, the coffee leaf rust crisis struck northern Peru, imperiling farmer yields and the cooperative’s business. Sol & Café used technical assistance and coffee farm renovation loans from CSAF members to withstand that crisis and rebuild in its aftermath. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, steady access to finance from CSAF lenders ensured that Sol & Café could continue to commercialize their coffee amid supply chain breakdowns and uncertain financial circumstances. Most recently, in 2022, the cooperative faced the same price risks as many other Peruvian coffee businesses amid significant political instability in the country. Sol & Café emerged strong from this latest challenge, but it highlighted the continued risks facing agri-SMEs and the importance of trusted partners to manage those risks.

Now, the cooperative is planning ahead to mitigate one of its most existential threats: climate change. In 2021, Root Capital advisors worked with Sol & Café to pilot a climate vulnerability dashboard, combining farm-level data with best-in-class climate mapping from CIAT to direct adaptation resources to the farmers who will be most impacted by climate change. This successful pilot has since been scaled up to more than 70 businesses globally, helping other businesses use their own versions of the dashboard to mitigate their climate risk.

Since CSAF started collecting data in 2013, the cooperative has leveraged more than $73M in disbursements from CSAF lenders to triple its workforce, diversify its buyer base to a dozen customers, and become one of the largest coffee cooperatives in Peru. Since that first CSAF loan, the cooperative has grown fourfold, exporting 2,700 metric tons of coffee in the 2022 harvest and reaching 1,100 farming families. This long-term partnership shows what is possible when borrowers receive stable support from trusted partners, unlocking meaningful growth for their business and the farmers they support.

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