Org's VC Fund Banks on Organic Chocolate

Org's VC Fund Banks on Organic Chocolate

The Nature Conservancy's EcoEnterprises Fund today announced its first investment, $500,000 for Organic Commodity Products, a private company that works with small-scale cocoa producers in Latin America to develop and market organic chocolate products for the world market.

"By investing in businesses that are doing the right thing, we can help people make a living, and help protect the world's great places," said Tammy Newmark, president of the EcoEnterprises Fund.

The $10 million fund -- a joint initiative of The Nature Conservancy and the Inter-American Development Bank -- provides venture capital and technical assistance to businesses involved in sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, ecotourism, and other environmentally compatible activities. To be eligible for funding, a company must collaborate with a nonprofit conservation or community organization.

According to David Whitehead, director of development for The Nature Conservancy, the EcoEnterprises Fund reflects a new trend towards venture 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. The EcoEnterprises Fund offers donors and investors this opportunity," Whitehead said.

Joseph Whinney, president of OCP, said the fund “fills a critical gap” in the funding world for environmentally responsible businesses. "It has provided financing for our Latin American business operations, as well as our inventory needs, which is vital to create market pull-through for small farmers' products," Whinney said.

According to statistics from the candy and snack industry, organic chocolate sales in the United States skyrocketed last year, growing by 70% to become a $20.5 million market. The industry said it expects U.S. sales for 2000 to grow by another 68% to $34.5 million.

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RELATED LINKS:

Bookstore: Investing With Your Values: Making Money and Making a Difference

Government Gateway: USDA's World Soil Resources Office

GreenBiz Essentials: Sustainable Forestry

JobLink Profile: Director of Natural Resources

Organization Directory: National Center for Appropriate Technology

Web Guide: Calvert Social Index

Web Guide: International Institute for Environment and Development
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