The EcoEnterprises Fund has invested $500,000 in a private company that works with small scale cocoa producers in Latin America. ‘By investing in businesses doing the right thing, we can help people make a living, and help protect the world’s great places,’ says Tammy Newmark, president of the fund. The $10 million fund provides venture capital and technical assistance to businesses involved in sustainable agriculture and forestry, ecotourism, and other environmentally compatible activities. The Organic Commodity Products company that works with small scale cocoa farmers fits that description
Cocoa is the principal ingredient in chocolate and a product of the cacao tree. These trees grow best in the understory of tropical forests. By providing technical assistance and economic incentives to farmers, the fund is also promoting the conservation of tropical forests.
A joint project of The Nature Conservancy and the Inter-American Development Bank, the fund reflects a new trend in philanthropy. ‘People are looking for new ways to give, and, in particular, ways to give that capture the power of the marketplace and show measurable results,’ says David Whitehead, director of development for The Nature Conservancy.