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

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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.

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.