Terragua Working Group
Improving food security and alleviating poverty among smallholder African farmers and their families is achievable, but it requires substantial private investment from investors who value equity and sustainability.
Project Terragua, the first working group of the GIIN Investors' Council, is comprised of impact investors who believe investment in sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa can dramatically improve the lives of poor farmers and their families.
Increasing concern about future food scarcity has made agriculturally-viable land increasingly attractive to international investors. Unfortunately, investment in African agriculture does not often consider the welfare of local farmers and communities and frequently threatens to accelerate irreversible natural resource consumption. Terragua members assert that investments deliberately structured to positively impact the agricultural value chain - incorporating smallholder farmers and environmental factors - can successfully generate financial returns and benefit the local community and environment.
Today, roughly 400 million Africans are small scale subsistence farmers, producing just enough food to feed their families. Without access to good seeds, fertilizers, proper land and water management techniques, storage, transport, and trade markets, these smallholder farmers are trapped in a cycle of poverty. At the same time, climate change is further increasing the stress on already degraded agro-ecosystems in Africa. This developing crisis demands interventions that are equitable and sustainable. Innovative market-based solutions can offer high impact opportunities to responsibly cultivate fertile land and employ smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The members of Terragua are working together to catalyze new sustainable, pro-poor investments and to help other investors in African agriculture positively impact the lives of poor farmers and their families. In order to make impact investment in African agriculture more accessible, the members of Terragua are collaborating to increase the visibility of successful investments, and to develop common impact screens and assessment criteria for investors in the sector. This collective action will enable investors to better identify opportunities that meet their specific risk, return, and impact criteria.
Read a GIIN case study about collaboration among Investors' Council members to co-invest in an African agricultural fund >
The Terragua investors have shaped an agenda to promote knowledge sharing and thought leadership that support their objectives:
- Knowledge Sharing: By serving as a forum for a wide range of investors, Terragua enables collaboration that can increase investment performance across financial, social and environmental objectives, and lower the barrier to investing by reducing search and transaction costs. Members are jointly supporting research into incorporation of smallholder farmers, low-cost rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure, public-private partnership opportunities, and opportunities in related businesses including transportation, market information technology, and financial services.
- Thought Leadership: Because Terragua is pioneering ideas and practices for impact investing in sub-Saharan African agriculture, Terragua members are uniquely positioned to share practitioner points of view and expertise, and to fill information gaps that obstruct the development of impact investment solutions. Terragua members will share their knowledge and promote impact investment in the agriculture sector at industry conferences, with targeted media outreach, and through the creation of public-private partnerships.
Terragua serves as a model for how the Investors' Council can support working groups focused around members' shared interest in a geographic region, sector, or investment approach.