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Clarmondial, Rainforest Alliance cooperate on Mount Kenya impact investment

Published: 12 June 2024

Funded by the Ikea Foundation, the two organisations will work together on a catalytic pilot investment in the Mount Kenya landscape.

Mount Kenya landscape
The Mount Kenya landscape is a key contributor to the Kenyan economy due to its important agricultural area, but its smallholder farmers are struggling with the impact of climate change | Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance in Kenya and Swiss-based impact investor Clarmondial will jointly execute a catalytic pilot investment for the Biosphere Integrity Fund in the Mount Kenya landscape, a biodiversity hotspot that’s home to more than 700 plant species as well as endangered and rare animals such as the black rhino and albino zebra.

IKEA Foundation is the funder. No financial details were disclosed.

Although the Mount Kenya landscape is a significant contributor to the Kenyan economy due to its important agricultural area, its 50,000 smallholder farmers are  struggling with the impact of climate change, including unpredictable rainfalls and rising costs.

Both parties said the key driver for the catalytic impact investment is a lack of sufficient funding for the transition to more sustainable landscapes and value chains in the region.

“This pilot catalytic investment will demonstrate the potential for social and environmental impact, notably on biodiversity, climate action and women’s economic empowerment, alongside financial returns in a scalable manner,” the Rainforest Alliance and Clarmondial said.

Smallholder farmers

The transaction builds on work done by the Rainforest Alliance under the Mount Kenya Sustainable Landscape and Livelihoods (MSuLLi) Program, which is also funded by the IKEA Foundation.

This scheme supports Mount Kenya’s smallholder farmers by helping them to better manage their natural resources. This in turn has boosted farmer incomes and led to positive results for the climate in a region that supplies more than three-quarters of Kenya’s renewable surface water partly thanks to its glacier capped peaks. 

Rainforest Alliance

Mount Kenya is one of the top priorities of the Rainforest Alliance, a non-profit organisation which has partnered with over 7.5 million farmers across the world in its aim to restore the balance between people and nature. Its Rainforest Alliance seal can be seen on more than 42,000 products in shops all over the world.

“In recent years, the Rainforest Alliance has diligently pursued an integrative landscape management approach in the region, managing its land and resources more sustainably while improving farmer livelihoods, through strategies such as scaling regenerative agriculture and land restoration,” said Julius Nganga, the organisation’s senior director for East and Southern Africa.

“Building on the great work the Rainforest Alliance has already done in the Mount Kenya landscape, we will support selected local actors in evaluating the business case of transitioning to better practices,” said Herbert Hatanga, partner for East and Southern Africa at Clarmondial, an independent firm focused on mobilising capital for the sustainable management of natural resources.

“We have already designed and implemented vehicles that adopt mechanisms in which stakeholders within the value chains have a financial stake to advance better agricultural practices. We are in the process of developing another, the Biosphere Integrity Fund, that will aim to scale this investment further,” Hatanga said.

IKEA Foundation

Annelies Withofs, programme manager at IKEA Foundation, said the agreement “builds on the unique networks and expertise that the parties have built: the Rainforest Alliance has relevant experience in regenerative agriculture, and Clarmondial has demonstrated its ability to develop and execute innovative financing mechanisms that mobilise private capital for sustainable agricultural value chains.”

Since 2009, the Ikea Foundation has committed €2bn to tackle what it regards as the biggest threat to children’s futures: climate change and poverty. Three years ago, the foundation  founded in 1982 by IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, decided to grant an additional €1bn over a five-year period to speed up the transition to net zero. 

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