Incofin joins forces with Fairtrade International to support smallholder farmers in weathering COVID-19

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Impact investor Incofin IM, through the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund, grants EUR 200,000 to the Fairtrade International funds that were created to meet both the immediate and the medium to long term needs of farming communities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This donation will support Fairtrade certified producers in Africa and Latin America and facilitate investments in sustainable agriculture.

Incofin joins forces with Fairtrade International to support smallholder farmers in weathering COVID-19

COVID-19 is heavily impacting the lives of smallholder farmers and farm workers, who are at high risk of illness, loss of employment and income due to the crisis. Supporting the producers affected by this emergency is key to protecting their safety, livelihoods and global food security. Investing in long-term solutions that will strengthen the resilience of farming communities, while also protecting the environment is the forward-looking way to lasting impact.

Realizing this vision requires strong partnerships. Incofin is joining forces with Fairtrade International, which launched the Fairtrade Producer Relief Fund and the Fairtrade Producer Resilience Fund in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Relief Fund intends to meet the immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, while the Resilience Fund aims to support economic recovery by addressing the medium to long term needs of Fairtrade certified producers as they look at business continuity in a COVID-19 world. The initial investment of EUR 3.6 million between the two funds, contributed by Fairtrade International and its member organizations, is expected to mobilize additional pledges from other donors.

COVID-19 safety protocols at the collection center of the Peruvian cocoa cooperative ACOPAGRO

Fairtrade International is a founding sponsor and shareholder of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“FAF”), an impact fund advised by Incofin, which invests in Fairtrade and sustainably certified organizations (producer organizations, agricultural value chain SMEs and MFIs). FAF aims to address the financing and technical assistance needs of smallholder farmers, thus contributing to the improvement of their wellbeing and communities while promoting a sustainable food system for the world. FAF partners with around 30 Fairtrade certified producer organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The majority of these organizations are active in the coffee and cocoa values chains, which are among the top Fairtrade commodities.

In order to scale the provision of relief and economic recovery support to a larger number of institutions within the Fairtrade network, Incofin is providing EUR 200,000 to the aforementioned Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds. This donation comes from the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“TAF”), which is funded by KFW, FMO and BIO. The contribution will enable the provision of grants to the Fairtrade certified producer organisations, which are FAF clients in Africa and Latin America to support their producers. Part of this support will target longer-term interventions, such as business restoration and diversification, transitioning to organic production practices and climate change resilience, establishing food security and supporting other activities that will generate added value for the farmers. The donation will be managed by the Fairtrade Producer Networks – CLAC (La Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Pequeños Productores y Trabajadores de Comercio Justo) in Latin America and Fairtrade Africa.

The Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds present a unique opportunity to efficiently address the challenges brought about by the global pandemic. This partnership is also a reflection of the strong commitments from Fairtrade International and Incofin to maximize impact within the farming communities and to facilitate investments in sustainable agriculture.

Darío Soto Abril, CEO of Fairtrade International says, “Fairtrade farmers and agricultural workers have been pillars in their communities, using their own funds to support health efforts and to provide food to those in need. These producers are creative and resilient, and Incofin’s commitment to the Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds will enable them to take bold steps to meet the challenges of this time, and evolve toward more sustainable livelihoods.”

Viktoria Popova, Incofin’s Technical Assistance Manager shares, “At Incofin, we continuously explore possibilities of providing relevant support to our clients. Technical Assistance is an important instrument of addressing the challenges our portfolio companies face. COVID-19 has a tremendous impact on businesses and communities we work with. Partnering with Fairtrade International is very important as we aim to create lasting change among the farming communities and transform the global food system. I am extremely thankful to our donors for their support of this forward-looking initiative.”

– Viktoria Popova, TA Manager at Incofin

About the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“TAF”)

The Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (“TAF”) is established to support the FAF Fund in achieving its objectives through the provision of technical assistance services to FAF investees aimed to develop their capacities in addressing the challenges faced by smallholder farmers. With USD 3.9 million of committed donor funding, including the contributions from KFW, FMO and BIO, the TAF has supported 22 projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

About Fairtrade International

Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade International is an independent non-profit organization representing 1.7 million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide. It owns the FAIRTRADE Mark, a registered trademark of Fairtrade that appears on more than 30,000 products. Beyond certification, Fairtrade International and its member organizations empower producers, partner with businesses, engage consumers and advocate for a fair and sustainable future. Find out more at www.fairtrade.net.

Boosting the work of Congolese coffee farmers

News

A new technical assistance partnership with Congolese coffee cooperative SOPACDI will be launched under the Technical Assistance Facility of FAF (TAF). The project aims to improve further the quality and quantity of the coffee produced and exported by farmers in the Kivu region.

New technical assistance partnership to boost the work of Congolese coffee farmers

A new technical assistance partnership with Congolese coffee cooperative SOPACDI will be launched under the Technical Assistance Facility of FAF (TAF). The project aims to improve further the quality and quantity of the coffee produced and exported by farmers in the Kivu region.

Incofin is launching a new technical assistance project with SOPACDI, co-financed by the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (TAF). SOPACDI (Solidarité pour la Promotion des Actions Café et le Développement Intégral) is a coffee processing and exporting cooperative located in North Kivu and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded in 2006, the institution is recognized as the first and longest standing Fairtrade-certified cooperative in the country. Its outreach is quite significant as it gathers 11,733 producers, all of whom are Fairtrade and Organic certified.

SOPACDI’s vision is to improve the quality of life of their members and the overall community through the production of quality coffee, supporting “coffee farmers in full employment, united and prosperous”. In order to do so, the cooperative provides its member base technical assistance, gender sensibilization training, certification support and access to international markets, achieving high quality differentials in addition to establishing minimum prices and sustainable premiums.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo is a priority country for Incofin, in which we manage significant investments. We see the economic potential of the country, certainly in agriculture which represents almost 70% of the country’s economy. The country has suffered from decades of political violence, corruption and mismanagement. We are keen to support SOPACDI, as it provides perspective to small coffee growers in the Kivu region. SOPACDI is one of the enterprises that can turn the tide for Congolese smallholder farmers.”- Loïc De Cannière, Founder and Managing Partner Incofin IM.

More coffee with an even better quality

“We, as leaders of SOPACDI, wish to establish a solid and lasting relationship with Incofin, a relationship based on concrete actions that will enable our members, small coffee producers in Kivu, a region long battered by violence of all kinds from the torment of unjust wars, to change their living conditions through the progressive increase of their agricultural incomes. We expect this technical assistance as a first step in this process to be a contribution with a palpable impact on the march towards this great vision.” – Joachim Munganga, President of SOPACDI.

The Technical Assistance (TA) project with Incofin aims to support SOPACDI’s mission. The project offers an opportunity for the cooperative to further increase the productivity as well as the quality of the coffee. The plan is to build 42 demonstration farms and to organize trainings for coffee producers on topics such as soil management, compost production and other good agricultural practices required for Fairtrade and Organic certifications.

Furthermore, the TA project will strengthen SOPACDI’s leadership and governance. Capacity building sessions on various subjects including marketing, finance, women leadership and governance practices will be provided to SOPACDI leadership, staff and members. This TA intervention is expected to result in improving the productivity and the quality of skill of the farmers, more effective decision-making of leadership and staff as well as increasing the loyalty of SOPACDI members and awareness around the topic of women empowerment.

About TAF

The Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (TAF) is established to support the FAF fund in achieving its objectives through the provision of technical assistance services to FAF investees aimed to develop their capacities in addressing the challenges faced by smallholder farmers. With USD 3.9 million of committed donor funding, including the contributions from KfW, FMO and BIO, the TAF has supported 20 projects in 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Interview with Incofin in ‘Spore Magazine’ about agricultural impact funds in Africa

Africa

news

Incofin is pleased to share with you an interview with Loïc De Cannière, Managing Partner & Founder at Incofin IM in the “Spore” magazine from May 2019 about agricultural impact funds in Africa.

Interview with Incofin in ‘Spore Magazine’ about agricultural impact funds in Africa

Incofin is pleased to share with you an interview with Loïc De Cannière, Managing Partner & Founder at Incofin IM in the “Spore” magazine from May 2019 about agricultural impact funds in Africa.

Africa

Investments in African agriculture today are more popular then ever. Development agencies and private sector investors are working to fill the agrifinance gap in Africa by investing in agricultural investment funds. Agricultural investments have become government priorities and are a more profitable proposition for private sector investors, due to food shortages and rising food prices.  Loïc De Cannière, discusses the challenges that blended funds are facing, why agriculture is an attractive focus for private sector players and how Incofin Investment Management’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) contributes to the sector.

Read the full article here.

Vacancy: Investment Manager Agrofinance

Impact

vacancy

To strengthen our team we are looking for an Investment Manager Agrofinance for Africa. The person will be based out of the Antwerp, Belgium office, or Nairobi, Kenyan office, according to preference.

Investment Manager Agrofinance

To strengthen our team we are looking for an Investment Manager Agrofinance for Africa. The person will be based out of the Antwerp, Belgium office, or Nairobi, Kenyan office, according to preference.

Assignments

  • Identify investment debt prospects in Africa in the agro value chain and with a special focus towards companies or association related to smallholder’s farmers.
  • Lead the due diligence of possible prospects with the purpose of preparing an investment proposal to the investment committee.
  • Lead the negotiations of investment conditions looking forward in obtaining the best return on investment for the funds.
  • Present and defend proposals before the investment committees to obtain its approval.
  • Lead the closing of transactions, together with the legal area (contracts), to assure that the conditions agreed are included in the documents.
  • Lead the investment monitoring in order to assure quality in the investment portfolio and the credit repayment.
  • Monitor the investment debt pipeline in order to assure the execution of the portfolio goals.

Key skills/competencies:

  • Master´s degree in finance or economics with specialty in agro or Agronomist with special degree in finance
  • Technical domain of debt / loan investment
  • Bilingual in English & French (a must)
  • Good IT user skills (excellent knowledge of MS Office)
  • 4 to 5 years of experience in working in the agricultural value chain ideally in investments and/or Technical assistance. Deep knowledge of the African agriculture context.

Important notice: Only candidates fulfilling these criteria will be contacted.

We offer

  • A challenging assignment in a fast growing multicultural company
  • A high degree of job satisfaction thanks to Incofin’s social commitment
  • A competitive remuneration
  • Ample opportunity to develop within a dynamic environment and based out of an emerging economy

Contact person and job application

All interested candidates need to send their CV as well as a cover/motivation letter to David Dewez (david.dewez@incofin.com), Incofin’s Fund Manager Agro before March the 15th 2020.

Incofin signs Belgian partnership ‘Beyond Chocolate’ for 100% sustainable chocolate by 2025

Beyond Chocolate

news

Incofin signed the partnership ‘Beyond Chocolate’; Belgian’s first big charter in collaboration with Belgian chocolate- and retail business, civil society organizations, social impact investors and universities to make chocolate more sustainable. The partnership is supported by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo (Open Vld).

Incofin signs Belgian partnership ‘Beyond Chocolate’ for 100% sustainable chocolate by 2025

Incofin Investment Management (Incofin) signed the partnership ‘Beyond Chocolate’; Belgian’s first big charter in collaboration with Belgian chocolate- and retail business, civil society organizations, social impact investors and universities to make chocolate more sustainable. The partnership is supported by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo (Open Vld).

Beyond Chocolate

The Partnership for sustainable Belgian Chocolate aims to sustainably improve the living standards of cocoa producers and their families. All signatories will collaborate on tackling a number of challenges such as child labour, deforestation, minimum income, gender equality and quality education to make chocolate 100% sustainable. Alexander De Croo is happy about this joint effort and says: “We all enjoy our good Belgian chocolate, which globally has a leading reputation in terms of quality. By giving more attention to sustainability, we make our chocolate taste even better.”

With the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF), Incofin already contributes significantly to these challenges in the cocoa industry. The fund invested over USD 8 million in Fairtrade and UTZ certified cocoa producers, some of which are also organic, in Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda and Colombia. Incofin commits with this partnership to maintain, and if possible, increase its exposure to the certified cocoa productivity value chain. The FAF’s mission is to serve the financing needs of smallholder farmers, agro SMEs and agro MFIs while promoting a sustainable food system for the world. By investing up to 20% of its portfolio in cocoa the fund aims to protect cocoa farmers and increase the profit potential of their produce.

Beyond Chocolate

The ‘Beyond Chocolate’ Partnership for sustainable Belgian chocolate has the following goals:

  • By 2025 all Belgian chocolate needs to comply to at least one of the relevant certificates such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ and organic, and/or produced with cocoa from an independent sustainability program. Also the Cocoa & Forests Initiative will need to be fully respected by then.
  • Deforestation as a consequence of chocolate production for Belgium needs to be stopped by 2030, and all cocoa producers will have to earn at least a living income.

‘Beyond Chocolate’ builds further on the existing Belgian SDG Charter for International Development that was launched two years ago. This Charter gathers the private sector, civil society organizations and government around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

About Incofin

Incofin Investment Management (www.incofin.com) is a global independent impact investment firm, focused on rural and agricultural finance, driven by a desire to promote inclusive progress. It is an AIFM licensed fund manager and has over USD 1 billion in assets under management.  Incofin has a team of more than 50 professionals spread over the headquarters in Belgium and local investment teams in India, Colombia, Kenya and Cambodia.

Contact details

Investor Relations
investorrelations@incofin.com

The FAF diversifies its portfolio in DR Congo

Coffee cooperative

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Incofin Investment Management (Incofin) is pleased to announce the first successful investment of the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) in East DR Congo.

The FAF diversifies its portfolio in DR Congo

Incofin Investment Management (Incofin) is pleased to announce the first successful investment of the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF) in East DR Congo. The FAF invested USD 300.000 in a coffee cooperative. Operating in this region of Congo is particularly challenging because of the unpredictable political situation. In fact, FAF is one of the very few international creditors available in this region.

Coffee farmer

The coffee cooperative groups about 12.000 very small organic coffee farmers, with less then 1 hectare of land, in post-conflict Kivu. The organization mobilizes and structures the small coffee farmers through the production of well-marked, certified quality coffee. In doing so, the cooperative provides support through continuous training of farmers, rejuvenation of plantations, the collection and processing of production and the equitable sharing of social premiums.

The cooperative, as many African coffee producers, taps into the “high-value” market segment of  specialty  coffees,  which  are  characterized  by  specific  taste  profiles  and  are  sold  in  small batches, usually to smaller roasters. The coffee in this region is rated among the world highest cupping quality, produced entirely from trees in the Bourbon variety of Arabica. The coffee is wet-processed or ‘washed’, meaning the fruit skin and pulp are removed from the beans immediately after harvesting and before drying.

The coffee cooperative is FLO, Organic, UTZ and SPP certified. The coffee is sold to buyers in Germany, the USA, France and Belgium, amongst others.

The GIIN publishes its ‘Financing the Sustainable Development Goals’ report

The GIIN

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The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) published a new report, Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: Impact Investing in Action, that reiterates the need for impact investors to raise and direct new capital to help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The GIIN publishes its ‘Financing the Sustainable Development Goals’ report

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) published a new report, Financing the Sustainable Development Goals: Impact Investing in Action, that reiterates the need for impact investors to raise and direct new capital to help meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. With an estimated $5-7 trillion needed annually to achieve the goals, it is clear that more capital, deployed by investors whose aims align with these goals, is an absolute requirement.

The GIIN

Incofin has been featured to illustrate the evolution of increasingly sophisticated and targeted approaches by investors directing capital towards the UN SDGs. To illustrate this, Incofin incorporated a case study from de Los Andes Cooperativa, a client of the Fairtrade Access Fund in Colombia. Amit Bouri, CEO and Co-Founder of the GIIN says: “Through these case studies, we are highlighting investors and their strategic approaches to the SDGs, which we hope will inspire those in the investment community to consider how they too can take active roles in helping achieve these goals.”

Incofin incorporated the SDGs into its due diligence and investment management process across all its managed and advised funds, and has made 60 investments globally that target market-rate returns while pursuing these aims. Togo O’Brien, Corporate Development Manager of Incofin says: “The response from our investors regarding our application of the SDGs has been overwhelmingly positive. They appreciate that we don’t just communicate on the SDGs on a superficial level. By mapping each indicator to a SDG target, we are able to substantiate our alignment and contribution to the SDGs in a practical and tangible way. We’re not just saying we align with the SDGs, but we’re showing how.”

Download the full report here. 

CSAF publishes its “State of the Sector 2018” Report

CSAF

news

Drawing upon data and insights from the portfolios of 12 financial institutions, the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) published its “State of the Sector 2018” Report.

CSAF publishes its “State of the Sector 2018” Report

Drawing upon data and insights from the portfolios of 12 financial institutions, the Council on Smallholder Agricultural Finance (CSAF) published its “State of the Sector 2018” Report. Last year, Incofin Investment Management and the 11 other CSAF members collectively provided $716 million in loans to 794 agricultural SMEs around the world. This just-released “State of the Sector” Report explores trends, opportunities, and challenges for unlocking agricultural financing at the scale required to meet demand.

CSAF

Incofin IM, manager of the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF), is a member of the CSAF. The FAF published its first Intelligence Report this year, regarding the Brazil nut sector in Bolivia. A summary is given in the “State of the Sector 2018” Report on page 15. Incofin has provided financing and advisory services to four Brazil nut enterprises (representing 385 Brazil nut collectors and employing 1,240 staff in their processing facilities). Brazil nuts are collected in primary forests. The Brazil nut market is vulnerable to changing climate patterns and human-driven deforestation. No industrial-scale Brazil nut plantations exist, despite growing demand for this “superfood” in the US and Europe. As many indigenous Amazonian communities depend on the Brazil nut harvest for their livelihoods, they have a strong incentive to preserve the forest environment and keep others from encroaching due to logging or mining.

Download the “State of the Sector 2018” Report here

FAF TAF is making great progress

FAF TAF

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It was a successful first half of the year for the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF TAF), managed by Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM).

FAF TAF is making great progress

It was a successful first half of the year for the Technical Assistance Facility of the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF TAF), managed by Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM). On June 27th, the FAF TAF Committee, represented by Fairtrade International and Incofin IM on behalf of the FAF Fund and its donors – KfW and FMO – approved four new projects:

FAF TAF
  1. COMSA, Honduras: support in organic fertilizer production to increase the cooperative’s financial sustainability, minimize the negative environmental impacts of coffee production and encourage farm diversification
  2. FECCEG, Guatemala: strengthening profitability of key business lines (incl. organic honey and sugar cane), developing a strategy to provide fair and responsible financing to members
  3. Prosperidad de Chirinos, Peru: improving capacities in soil/crop rehabilitation and quality control (in support to the FAF long-term investment to finance the construction of solar dryers on members’ farms)
  4. Ten Senses, Kenya: introducing software and mobile application to improve farmer productivity and support the profitability of Ten Senses’ cashew business.

This adds to the thematic and geographical variety of the TAF, which is now active in 10 countries. Since the beginning of 2018, the TAF has grown with 6 new projects and disbursed a record of USD 176.000 for the benefit of 10 FAF investees, reaching out to over 34.000 smallholder farmers. The TAF successfully finalized a project with COSURCA (Colombia) to help coffee farmers whose livelihoods are under threat from climate change to begin producing organic cacao in order to diversify their income sources. Through this project, 108 family farms have been diversified and 54,000 organic cacao tress planted. This is a great example of how the TAF is advancing the mission of the Fund through the provision of tailored capacity building support to its investees aimed at creating a fair, sustainable and inclusive agricultural sector, where the smallholders can maximize their potential to live a better and happier life.

The FAF holds a “Mini-Forum for Coffee Exporting leaders” at SCA

SCA

news

The Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF), managed by Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM), held a “Mini-Forum for Coffee Exporting leaders” at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), a half day seminar for its agricultural division clients. The Mini-Forum aimed at expanding the clients´ knowledge on some of the most important cross-cutting topics in smallholder agriculture today.

The FAF holds a “Mini-Forum for Coffee Exporting leaders” at SCA

The Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF), managed by Incofin Investment Management (Incofin IM), held a “Mini-Forum for Coffee Exporting leaders” at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), a half day seminar for its agricultural division clients. The Mini-Forum aimed at expanding the clients´ knowledge on some of the most important cross-cutting topics in smallholder agriculture today.

Every year, more than 10,000 people descend upon the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) annual conference. Among them, exporters, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and many more actors participating in the specialty coffee value chain. The SCA conference is a chance for coffee buyers and exporters to negotiate terms for the upcoming harvest, get up to date on market trends, and meet with old and new industry actors. “It is the best opportunity to close deals with our buyers, and see what´s happening in the world of coffee”, said Paul Quezada, General Manager of Villa Rica Golden Coffee in Peru.

SCA

At this year’s conference in Seattle, WA, Incofin hosted a half-day “Mini-Forum for Coffee Exporting Leaders”, comprising seminars for 15 of its agricultural division clients (FAF and agRIF funds), including Coffee Cooperatives and sustainably focused Coffee SMEs from several Latin American countries. The Mini-Forum, sponsored by the Technical Assistance Facility of FAF, aimed at expanding our clients´ knowledge by presenting interactive perspectives from experts like Jorge Cuevas, Chief Coffee Trader at Sustainable Harvest, Rene Capote, Product Manager for Coffee at Fair Trade International, and Stacy Bocskor, Business Development Manager, North America at Utz/Rainforest Alliance. The forum also featured Mark Lundy, Senior Researched for CIAT and FAF Investment Committee Chair, for his expertise on Coffee and Climate Change. Finally, Eduardo Gustale from Fundación Paraguaya´s Poverty Spotlight Program addressed the topic of how poverty reduction can be actively targeted by our coffee exporting cooperatives and sustainably minded coffee SMEs. The event brought our clients together in a friendly atmosphere for learning, discussion, and sharing — with each other and the Incofin team.

We very much valued participating at this mini-forum, as it gives us the chance not only to stay updated on our industry, but also to meet other exporters and learn from them.” – Juan Francisco Gonzalez, General Manager of Federación Comercializadora de Café Especial de Guatemala.

These seminars and panels ultimately provided a vibrant environment for our clients to learn, discuss and share with each other, key industry stakeholders and the Incofin team.