In 2009, Falcon backed 47 farming groups in Ethiopia, representing more than 100 000 people, by standing as their financial guarantor so that they qualified for credit for the first time in their lives.
The Gates Foundation donated $47 million to a coffee program aimed at doubling the income of smallholder coffee farmers throughout East Africa. One of the key external requirements of the program was to leverage finance from local banks, to build infrastructure and provide working capital loans to small holder farmers.
In Ethiopia, no local banks had historically financed smallholder farmers, and were not willing to undertake the risk. The proposed program stalled. Eventually, one bank agreed to provide the finance in exchange for a four-year guarantee from a private company, by holding a fixed sum for a fixed period, as the loan capital was repaid.
Falcon was the only private company willing to do so. We placed $416,000 into a Stand-By Letter of Credit with Bank of America, for a period of four years, creating access to working capital and debt finance for these 47 communities.
Every dollar of debt was paid back by every farmer, except for 17 farmers that lost their entire crop due to drought.
These farmers have gone on to produce some of the highest quality, most sought after coffee in Ethiopia, every year since 2010, radically increasing the coffee income for these families and communities.