Praia, Santiago. 2015.

Cape Verde, an island nation located 300 miles off the coast of West Africa, is one of the most resource-poor nations in all of Africa: despite its verdant name, it rarely rains in Cape Verde.  Yet Cape Verde is a vibrant nation with a growing economy and a reputation for good governance. 

That reputation grew even stronger when Cape Verde recently went through a peaceful democratic transition to a new government after 15 years of rule by the previous governing party. Unlike many African countries that have experienced generations of one-party rule, Cape Verde is a model for the region and the rest of the world. 

Kria knows Cape Verde. Our co-founder, Bill Lofy, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde in the late 1990s and has returned frequently to the country that he considers a second home. 

Pedra Badejo, 2017. Manel is one of our three founding partner farmers. Based in the Santa Cruz valley on the island of Santiago, Manel farms land that has been in his family for generations, growing papaya, passion fruit, bananas, and sugar cane. He's also a producer of grogue, the local cane rum, which Kria appreciates almost as much as Manel's partnership. 

Most recently, Bill is working with the newly-elected Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Ulisses Correia e Silva, to assist his leadership team with their executive transition into office. Building on his experience leading governing transitions for Governor Peter Shumlin in Vermont and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, Bill travels frequently to Cape Verde as part of a long-term project to improve the new government’s strategic communications strategy, constituent outreach, and executive office management system.

Through his work in governance and executive management, Bill has also witnessed the ongoing transformation of Cape Verde’s economy, particularly in agriculture. Water – still a precious commodity – is more available today in Cape Verde than ever before. Yet the country still imports far more food than it produces, and value-added agriculture in Cape Verde lags behind most African nations. 

That’s why Kria is expanding its work in Cape Verde beyond governance, in an effort to grow domestic production – and ownership – of value-added agriculture. We have a team of entrepreneurial farmers under contract to grow maracuja - passion fruit - as part of a cooperative effort to create Cape Verde's first domestic, organic fruit juice company, majority owned by our Cape Verdean partners. 

Cape Verde imports 100% of its juice, despite improved infrastructure and interest by Cape Verdean farmers to create value-added products for the market. That's about to change. 

Here's the idea:

We invest capital in juice production and incorporate a wholesale juice business with our Cape Verdean partners on the ground. Then, in return for an ownership share of the business and a set, predictable price for their products, local farmers supply the raw fruit for processing. Think of our cooperative agriculture model in Vermont, applied to Cape Verde. We've created a democratically owned, farmer-driven domestic juice business for Cape Verde, produced by Cape Verde – the first of its kind. 

 Our long-term goal is to create a product that serves not only the domestic Cape Verdean economy, but also becomes an exportable value-added commodity with revenue going back to Cape Verdean farmers and entrepreneurs. 

Plants are in the ground, contracts are signed, and a business is born. To follow our progress, check out our blog! 

Strawberry farm, Assomada, Santiago. 2016