PRESS RELEASE: OPIC and Big Tree Farms Partner to Modernize Southeast Asian Agriculture
Thursday, November 5, 2015
WASHINGTON – The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, recently committed $3.7 million in debt financing to Big Tree Farms, Inc., a U.S. company headquartered in Ashland, OR that is advancing sustainable, organic coconut and cocoa agriculture across the dispersed islands of Indonesia.
Big Tree Farms started organic farming operations in Bali, Indonesia in 2000, and through sound U.S. business, labor, and environmental standards, provides a reliable, increased livelihood for low-income farmers living in the tropical country. With this OPIC financing, Big Tree Farms will scale up their operations, increasing processing and production centers alongside farmer training in sustainable agriculture practices and responsible land use.
Big Tree Farms cultivates region-specific crops like coconut and cacao, and in turn processes these into internationally-consumed coconut sweeteners, cacao butter, powder and nibs and concentrated coconut water. By ensuring producers follow organic certified farming practices and managing supply chain and processing operations in accordance with fair trade principles, Big Tree brings U.S. leadership to advance the Indonesian agriculture sector.
The OPIC support comes through the agency’s Portfolio for Impact, a pilot program designed to support unique projects with significant potential for positive social impact, one of several OPIC innovations to further support to impact investing, a sector that addresses the world’s development challenges through private sector business solutions.
“Outward-looking American entrepreneurs with social and environmental objectives like Big Tree Farms are at the heart of OPIC’s work,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “Their unique business plan was a perfect fit for OPIC’s adaptive and innovative Portfolio for Impact, which is designed to serve projects for which traditional finance instruments offered no perfect fit. I look forward to the positive impacts for the Indonesian agriculture sector Big Tree Farms will achieve thanks to OPIC support.”
“The partnership with OPIC represents an exciting new chapter in Big Tree Farm’s growth. Our company has built a global reputation for innovation, ethical business and high quality product, and now with this new partnership in hand, Big Tree Farms will finally be able to scale appropriately for global demand and market requirements. These are holistic projects we’re going to execute; allowing us to not only expand capacity and improve our technologies, but as well positively impact the lives of many more thousands of traditional farmers across Indonesia,” said Ben Ripple, co-founder and co-CEO of Big Tree Farms.
OPIC is the U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilizes private capital to help address critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. Because OPIC works with the U.S. private sector, it helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets, catalyzing revenues, jobs and growth opportunities both at home and abroad. OPIC achieves its mission by providing investors with financing, political risk insurance, and support for private equity investment funds, when commercial funding cannot be obtained elsewhere. Established as an agency of the U.S. Government in 1971, OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers.
All OPIC projects adhere to high environmental and social standards and respect human rights, including worker’s rights. By mandating high standards, OPIC helps raise the industry and regional standards of the countries in which its projects operate. OPIC services are available for new and expanding business enterprises in more than 160 countries worldwide.