Ecom Agroindustrial Corp

Africa Food and agriculture

Ecom Agroindustrial Corp is a commodity merchant and sustainable supply chain management company. The company procures from roughly 680,000 farmers across Africa, with over 800,000 farmers in the company’s global supply chain.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

Our investment

CDC first backed Ecom in 2014, and our new investment will allow Ecom to continue improving farmers’ livelihoods by providing them with access to overseas markets, improving farming practices and enhancing sustainable farming through training and access to technology.

  • Improve economic sustainability and resilience of farmers (SDG 2.3).
  • Environmental sustainability through more sustainable farming practices (SDG 2.4, 12.2, 12.6).

Our loan (part of a development finance institution (DFI) consortium with Dutch DFI, FMO, and German DFI, DEG) will support ECOM with investments in capex, farmer initiatives and permanent working capital, which will support farmers in accessing markets overseas, improve yields/quality and farm more sustainably through training, inputs and technology.

Stakeholder Geography Characteristics
Suppliers (farmers)

While the company operates globally, CDC’s capital will be earmarked for Africa. The top five countries with the largest number of farmers sourced from are Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia.

  • ECOM procures directly from farmers and indirectly through cooperatives. Most farmers (more than 90 per cent) have landholdings of less than 20 hectares, and 25 per cent are female.
Scale Depth/Duration

In 2019, ECOM sourced from c. 680,000 farmers in Africa. Globally, there are more than 800,000 farmers in ECOM’s supply chain.

The impact will occur over 7 years (loan tenor).

Grid Score Contribution


To help us direct our investments, we use a tool called the Development Impact Grid. The Grid scores every investment we plan out of a score of four, based on two factors: the difficulty of investing in the country and whether investment in that sector will lead to jobs.

  • Financial: Commercial capital is not available on the same terms (i.e. DFIs offer longer tenors).
  • Value-add: CDC will support ECOM in improving standards and practices, and provide technical expertise as part of the DFI consortium.

Evidence: Given the funding structure at Group level, CDC cannot attribute all impact outcomes to our capital.

Expected impact

The traditional agricultural trading companies in some of Africa’s poorer countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria – buy goods at the port. There is a heavy reliance on middlemen and trading is often opportunistic, leaving smallholders short-changed.

Ecom’s business model spans direct relationships with smallholder farmers, through to selling direct to large multinational buyers. In contrast to traditional models, the company buys at the farm gate, helping to improve farmer incomes.

It also invests in rural logistics and processing assets such as buying stations, coffee mills, cleaning facilities and warehouses, supporting the local supply chain.

Environmental and social aspects

We are working closely with Ecom and other lenders to ensure that the company's relationships with farmers and cooperatives deliver benefits to livelihoods, as well as good labour practices in its supply chains.

The initiative helps farmers improve production practices, enhance yields, and improve access to inputs and certification programmes such as Rainforest Alliance, Utz, Organic and Fair Trade.

Key facts


Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.


We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people.

Food and agriculture
Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

Direct Debt
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date British International Investment committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that British International Investment committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

December 2014

For direct investments, this is the total amount that British International Investment has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that British International Investment has committed to the fund.


This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.


We are now British International Investment