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Oikocredit invests in Latin American responsible coffee trader Caravela

THE NETHERLANDS / UNITED KINGDOM — Social impact investor Oikocredit has closed a US$ 4.7 million investment in Caravela Coffee, a specialty coffee trader that sources coffee in Latin America using direct trade principles.

Oikocredit purchased shares from Annona Sustainable Investments.

Annona first invested in Caravela in 2011 and supported the company through a phase of rapid growth. Since 2011, Caravela has expanded from one export and import operation to seven export and three import operations today. In the same period, Caravela increased its green coffee sales volume from less than one thousand tons to almost five thousand tons per year, with sales growing at a CAGR of 25.6%.

In 2018, Caravela responsibly sourced coffee from almost 4,000 farmers in eight Latin American countries and sold to 275 specialty coffee roasters in 27 countries. Caravela paid nearly US$ 10 million in quality premiums to producers, representing on average an 88% premium over commodity market prices.

Caravela’s on-the-ground team and educational programmes help farmers produce high quality coffee. Forty per cent of Caravela’s 175 employees work full-time with farmers, either as agronomists or quality analysts.

Caravela plans to continue double-digit growth while continuing to empower and reward coffee producers for their quality coffee with prices well above their costs of production, which is even more critical today as market prices continue to decline to historic lows.

Alejandro Cadena, co-founder and CEO of Caravela commented: “I would like to thank Annona for their instrumental support over the last eight years which helped us reach new heights, and we are excited to welcome Oikocredit as an investor and shareholder in Caravela. With Oikocredit we share the same vision of generating positive financial, social and environmental return in Latin America’s rural communities, and look forward to this new partnership as we continue to grow, staying true to our mission of generating positive impact for the entire coffee industry.”

Giancarlo Ghiretti, co-founder and CFO of Caravela added: “Welcoming Oikocredit as a shareholder allows us to have a strong partner that can help us continue to innovate and grow with transparency and traceability for the whole coffee chain, while maintaining quality at the core of our offering.”

Sébastien Rigaud, responsible for Oikocredit’s investment, said: “We are proud of this new investment. We particularly appreciate how Caravela works closely with coffee farmers and their communities. Oikocredit has set clear social and financial objectives to support Caravela in diversifying sourcing origins, strengthening relationships with key buyers, and continuing to pay high premiums to a growing number of farmers.”

Tom Keleher, Equity Director for Oikocredit, added: “Our organisation is very pleased to add Caravela to a global portfolio of innovative and pioneering agricultural-related businesses that are both highly respected in their respective sectors and have social impact at the top of their agendas.”

Walter Hetterschijt, Managing Director for Annona Sustainable Investments, concluded: “Caravela has successfully shown that quasi-equity structured investments in disruptive ‘de-commoditized’ business models can have huge positive socio-economic outcomes for coffee producers and be very profitable at the same time. Thanks to all at Caravela for the inspiring eight years. We wish coffee producers, Caravela and Oikocredit a very fruitful long-term cooperation.”