“When in doubt,
we take the plunge”

Rabo Rural Fund has big ambitions. The fund aims to double in size, and to have more impact over the next few years. Fund Manager Alexander Meyer talks about the plans.  

that’s what Rabo Foundation does. We also don’t provide services to large clients at the end of the chain; that’s Rabobank’s business. We focus exclusively on the ‘missing middle’ between these two extremes: companies and cooperatives that have outgrown Rabo Foundation, but haven’t yet been able to obtain bank financing. To help them, we utilize the entire Rabo organization’s knowledge and networks, we work together with banking units like Trade & Commodity Finance, and we combine our efforts with Rabo partner banks in developing countries.”

What has Rabo Rural Fund achieved over the past few years?
“When we were founded in 2011, we mainly focused on financing coffee cooperatives in Peru. In 2013, we began expanding and professionalizing our fund, for example by diversifying our products and countries. That enabled us to have a greater impact, and to diversify our risks. We also conduct increasingly detailed studies of countries and products in which we would like to invest. Thanks to efforts like these, we managed to turn a modest profit in 2018. That’s good, of course, but it’s not our goal. We strive to maintain our capital: not lose too much, but also not to make a profit. Our main priority will always be to have an impact on people’s living conditions.”

What is the ambition for the next few years?
“The fund will invest in growth, with the help of extra funding from Rabobank. With those extra resources, we aim to reach even more people over the coming years, and to help our clients to grow.”

How do you aim to have an even greater impact?
“We want to fill the gap between us, Rabobank, and Rabo Foundation and other NGOs. For example, by working even closer together, and to ‘stretch’ where necessary.

Rabobank did when it granted financing to Caravela, a Columbian coffee company that had received support from Rabo Foundation and Rabo Rural Fund for 15 years.”

Would you also like to offer new products?
“Right now, we’re studying whether we can provide inventory financing in addition to our current trade financing. That would make cooperatives more flexible, and increase their chances for growth. We would also like to finance more sustainably produced market crops, and we hope to be able to support more microfinancing organizations. For example, farmers who join together to found a bank to provide loans to one another, just like how Rabobank started out.”

Can you give an example of the strenght of Rabo Rural Fund?
“Our support to fishers on Sulawesi, a poor island in Indonesia. They used to sell their fish to middlemen for low prices. The boats didn’t have enough refrigeration capacity, so only 40 percent of their catch was suitable for sale. The American company North Atlantic Inc. (NAI) was moved by the fishers’ situation, and it founded the company PT Bali. The new company hired the middlemen and bought the fish directly from the fishers, which helped them earn more money. PT Bali also built a new packaging and ice plant in the harbor. Boats were given blocks of ice to keep the fish cool, which dramatically increased their revenues. Rabo Rural Fund was PT Bali’s first financier, and that encouraged other parties to provide funding as well. PT Bali hasn’t yet turned a profit, but that’s no reason for us to stop providing support. We look at things like their collateral, cash flow, and entrepreneurial skills, but also their potential, and especially their impact. And when in doubt, we take the plunge. We stand behind our clients for as long as possible, even during the hard times. That’s what makes us different from all of the other financiers.”

First: what is Rabo Rural Fund, exactly?
“Rabo Foundation set up Rabo Rural Fund in 2011, and it still manages the fund today. We don’t finance small farmers’ cooperatives at the start of the chain; 

Alexander Meyer
Fund Manager Rabo Rural Fund 

Rabo Rural Fund

with our knowledge SMOs take the next step 

Rabo Rural Fund / Interview  Alexander Meyer

Financial allocations
($ million per continent)

Number of projects
(per continent)
 

Africa 

Asia 

Latin America 

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Rabo Rural Fund / Interview  Alexander Meyer

“When in doubt,
we take the plunge”

Rabo Rural Fund

with our knowledge SMOs 
take the next step

What has Rabo Rural Fund achieved over the past few years?
“When we were founded in 2011, we mainly focused on financing coffee cooperatives in Peru. In 2013, we began expanding and professionalizing our fund, for example by diversifying our products and countries. That enabled us to have a greater impact, and to diversify our risks. We also conduct increasingly detailed studies of countries and products in which we would like to invest. Thanks to efforts like these, we managed to turn a modest profit in 2018. That’s good, of course, but it’s not our goal. We strive to maintain our capital: not lose too much, but also not to make a profit. Our main priority will always be to have an impact on people’s living conditions.”

What is the ambition for the next few years?
“The fund will invest in growth, with the help of extra funding from Rabobank. With those extra resources, we aim to reach even more people over the coming years, and to help our clients to grow.”

How do you aim to have an even greater impact?
“We want to fill the gap between us, Rabobank, and Rabo Foundation and other NGOs. For example, by working even closer together, and to ‘stretch’ where necessary.  Rabobank did when it granted financing to Caravela, a Columbian coffee company that had received support from Rabo Foundation and Rabo Rural Fund for 15 years.”

Would you also like to offer new products?
“Right now, we’re studying whether we can provide inventory financing in addition to our current trade financing. That would make cooperatives more flexible, and increase their chances for growth. We would also like to finance more sustainably produced market crops, and we hope to be able to support more microfinancing organizations. For example, farmers who join together to found a bank to provide loans to one another, just like how Rabobank started out.”

Can you give an example of the strenght of Rabo Rural Fund?
“Our support to fishers on Sulawesi, a poor island in Indonesia. They used to sell their fish to middlemen for low prices. The boats didn’t have enough refrigeration capacity, so only 40 percent of their catch was suitable for sale. The American company North Atlantic Inc. (NAI) was moved by the fishers’ situation, and it founded the company PT Bali. The new company hired the middlemen and bought the fish directly from the fishers, which helped them earn more money. PT Bali also built a new packaging and ice plant in the harbor. Boats were given blocks of ice to keep the fish cool, which dramatically increased their revenues. Rabo Rural Fund was PT Bali’s first financier, and that encouraged other parties to provide funding as well. PT Bali hasn’t yet turned a profit, but that’s no reason for us to stop providing support. We look at things like their collateral, cash flow, and entrepreneurial skills, but also their potential, and especially their impact. And when in doubt, we take the plunge. We stand behind our clients for as long as possible, even during the hard times. That’s what makes us different from all of the other financiers.”

that’s what Rabo Foundation does. We also don’t provide services to large clients at the end of the chain; that’s Rabobank’s business. We focus exclusively on the ‘missing middle’ between these two extremes: companies and cooperatives that have outgrown Rabo Foundation, but haven’t yet been able to obtain bank financing. To help them, we utilize the entire Rabo organization’s knowledge and networks, we work together with banking units like Trade & Commodity Finance, and we combine our efforts with Rabo partner banks in developing countries.”

First: what is Rabo Rural Fund, exactly?
“Rabo Foundation set up Rabo Rural Fund in 2011, and it still manages the fund today. We don’t finance small farmers’ cooperatives at the start of the chain; 

Alexander Meyer
Fund Manager Rabo Rural Fund 

Rabo Rural Fund has big ambitions. 
The fund aims to double in size, and to have more impact over the next few years. Fund Manager Alexander Meyer talks about the plans.  

Africa 

Asia 

Latin America 

Number of projects
(per continent)
 

Financial allocations
($ million per continent)