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Press Release

Convergence awards grant to promote climate- and gender-smart investment in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa

Toronto, 24 November 2023 - Convergence is pleased to award a feasibility study grant to Big Valley Advisors for the design of the ‘AgWaste Climate Fund’. The grant is supporting the design of a USD 120 million climate- and gender-smart investment fund which aims to reduce emissions from postharvest losses in smallholder-intensive agricultural value chains by providing expansion debt capital to SMEs operating across countries in the Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa. This grant is awarded through Convergence’s Gender-Responsive Climate Finance Design Funding Window, funded by Global Affairs Canada.

Food loss and waste accounts for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In less-developed countries, food waste and losses occur at almost all links in the food chain due to poor infrastructure, archaic technologies and few production resources. Meanwhile, common practices of burning agro-residues or leaving them to decompose have negative consequences from the release of soot, smoke and GHG emissions, as well as the degradation of underlying soil. This is an unrealized opportunity for biowaste, as the same material could be repurposed in a circular economy framework to achieve positive climate change outcomes. The AgWaste Climate Fund intends to address both these market failures.

“This award is immensely significant for Big Valley. As our inaugural fund, the backing from Convergence is pivotal in turning our vision into reality. Beyond the financial support, it grants us access to a well-regarded network of prestigious organizations. This type of collaboration is key to the innovation needed to redefine how we leverage climate finance—an essential step if we are to stand a chance in adapting to climate change. We are grateful for this partnership and look forward to reshaping the landscape of financing an inclusive food system transformation together.” — Mauricio Benitez, Founder of Big Valley.

The AgWaste Climate Fund will provide patient debt capital to large-scale agriculture SMEs and scalable biochar projects, as well as encourage a circular economy by repurposing agricultural waste for use as inputs in biochar projects.

Core to the fund’s design is a focus on gender-responsive initiatives to improve female livelihoods and general wellbeing. The fund works with agricultural value chains, where women make up over half the global workforce. The fund will operate alongside a technical assistance facility to channel the benefits of the technology to smallholder farmers and accelerate investments in present and future biochar projects across the Global South. Big Valley Advisors will be supported in the feasibility study design by strategic partners and CGIAR's Hub for Sustainable Finance (ImpactSF).

“The AgWaste Climate Fund has the potential to transform the carbon impacts of global food chains,” says Convergence CEO Joan Larrea “in addition to improving sustainability at large the fund will make a meaningful impact on the ground, directly benefiting women working in agriculture.”

About Big Valley Advisors
Big Valley is a Swiss investment advisory firm specializing in blended climate impact and food systems finance. It was established in 2023 by partners Mauricio Benitez and William Howe, who bring over 20 years of experience investing in emerging markets, predominantly in sustainable agriculture and nature-based solutions. Theh team has a proven track record designing innovative impact investment solutions, structuring and raising blended climate finance funds.

Learn more about Big Valley Advisors:

About Convergence’s Design Funding Program
Convergence’s Design Funding program operates as a market acceleration tool providing early-stage capital to support blended finance solutions in frontier markets and nascent sectors to accelerate the number of investible transactions in market targeting SDGs. The Gender-Responsive Climate Finance Window, funded by the Government of Canada, provides grant funding for the design and launch of innovative blended finance solutions focused on the intersection of climate change and gender equality in emerging markets globally. Visit Convergence’s Design Funding page for information on submission deadlines as well as other open windows.

About Convergence
Convergence is the global network for blended finance. On top of market acceleration through its Design Funding program, Convergence generates blended finance data, intelligence, and deal flow to increase private sector investment in developing countries. Convergence’s global membership includes over 160 public, private, and philanthropic investors as well as sponsors of transactions and funds.

Learn more about Convergence:

Media Contact
Karolyn Xie
Head of Communications (interim)
[email protected]

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