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Study Overview

Strengthening the Measurement Tools and Evidence Base for Collective Approaches to Smallholder Livelihoods: The Impact of Coffee Collectives on Women’s Empowerment in Mexico
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Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural collectives so they can transform rural communities. These collectives generate reliable income for smallholder farmers, and provide critical access to farm inputs and training. Through these services, agricultural-based collectives may offer a critical solution to closing agricultural gender gaps and empowering women across value chains. Root Capital will conduct an evaluation to explore how affiliation with any of two Root Capital clients in Chiapas, Mexico influences the production and income of smallholder coffee
farmers and indicators related to gender inclusion and gener inclusion perceptions at the household level. The study will also assess whether women inclusion in governance and decision-making bodies of FPOs impacts the business and loan performance metrics of Root Capital clients in México.

Registration Citation:
Agriculture and Rural Development
Private Sector Development
Additional Keywords:
Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
Secondary ID Number(s):
IFPRI IRB approval number: OHND-23-0312

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Juan Taborda
Root Capital
Name of Second PI:
Jessica Heckert

Intervention Overview


Root Capital provides credit and capacity building to small and growing agricultural businesses around the globe. for this particular evaluation we will focus on two coffee cooperatives in Chiapas, Mexico who are already Root Capital clients. We have worked with Root Capital’s Mexico team to identify (using a set of preestablished criteria) potential Root Capital clients who are well placed to participate on the study. After validating alternatives and different locations through Mexico, we have identified two cooperatives located in the state of Chiapas. 

Among other criteria for client selection, we validated to make sure that services are consistent, clearly documented, adequately provided, and include “gender equity” advisory elements that are comparable across clients. The selection of these clients allows us to believe that we have a similar intervention in all cooperatives which is a key assumption our study relies upon given that we are evaluating “the Root Capital effect”.  

Root Capital provides its clients a targeted package of financing and advisory services and products they need o strengthen, grow, and impact their communities. Our services provide our clients with i) the working capital they need to purchase crop from farmers, on-time, at higher prices, and ii) with highly-customized training to strengthen financial management, governance, climate resilience, and agronomic capacity as well gender equity within the collective.

Theory of Change:

Root Capital's objective is to assist small growing agri-businesses by providing access to working capital and capacity to grow and improve their producers incomes and well-being. The working capital we provide allows our clients to have higher and more stable prices for their goods, invest in business and in-farm improvements to their production, and aim towards quality and yields improvements that allow their products to access premium (often certified) markets, assuring higher and more stable prices. The capacity building advisory services provides our clients and their producers with financial management and agronomic training that leads to improved enterprise operation, growth, and improved access to finance at the business levels and improved quality and yields at the farm level, which then leads to improved incomes for smallholder producers. We have also created a set of advisory services focused on gender equality and women inclusion, that aims to improve the inclusion of women in governance and decision-making bodies of FPOs. We argue that increasing women's participation in the governing bodies of our clients is associated with improved perception of gender equality at the business and producers' households and is also related to improved business performance of our clients. In previous studies we have identified that on average enterprises with higher level of women's leadership and/or participation have more stable revenues and growth, are more likely to access new sources of finance, have lower default rates and yield higher profits on their loans.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
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Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Regression with controls
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Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

Given project execution timelines we propose that this first stage of the study follows a propensity score matching approach. We will match households on observable time-invariant characteristics that cannot be affected by Root Capital’s intervention.

Accurate impact estimation relies on the assumption the comparison group offers an accurate counterfactual for households in the treatment group. The propensity score matching approach allows to try to estimate an isolated treatment effect (ATT) for Root Capital’s intervention when dealing with only one round of data collection. We will generate propensity scores for all study participants, reflecting the likelihood of treatment assignment conditional on retrospective data and permanent characteristics collected in our survey. 

Rather than relying on a randomization for the creation of an adequate counterfactual, we match households with similar observed characteristics, assuming there is no selection bias based on unobserved characteristics. Therefore, the identification strategy relies on the idea there is a selection on observables and a common support, making it theoretically possible that individuals with the same matching score have positive probability of being both participant and no-participants, meaning, there is no perfect predictability of participation given that participation is independent of outcomes once we control for observable characteristics. If the conditional independence assumption and the common support assumption hold then it is possible to estimate the average treatment effect on the treated.


If we secure funding for future rounds of data collection, we will consider using an alternative method that is more robust in isolating the treatment effect (potentially diff-diff with some additional intervention variation).

Outcomes (Endpoints):

Primary Outcomes: Household Coffee Sales (total amount of coffee sold over the past 12 months), Coffee Price per kilo (in the past 12 months, from various buyers), Women’s Empowerment (as measured through the pro-WEAI+MI index), Indicators related to Women's participation in FPOs governing and decision-making bodies.  

Secondary Outcomes: Household Coffee Income (total amount of income earned from the sale of coffee over the most recent production season), Household Income, Receipt of Coffee Training/Information, Adoption of Agricultural Practices (use of specialized agricultural practices on coffee farm (such as pruning, use of fertilizer, etc.) in the most recent production season), Certification Status (whether the household produces coffee under any certification)

Unit of Analysis:

Root Capital clients provide affiliated farmers with price premiums and specialized farm services that increase farmer income relative to unaffiliated farmers via higher prices and greater productivity, leading to increased farm yields and sales. Root Capital clients also provide services that level the playing field for male and female farmers, leading to stronger measures of extrinsic and intrinsic empowerment relative to female client affiliates than non-affiliates.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Client or business level.
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Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
~500 households (1000 individuals) in the control group and ~500 households (1000 individuals) in the treatment group.

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Other Documents:
IRB approval: IRB approval.pdf
IRB Protocol: RC ANEW - IRB Detailed Protocol_02012023.docx

Outcomes Data

Household Survey topics: 1. Agricultural production 2. Household composition and characteristics 3. Roles in household decision making 4. Access to information and to markets 5. Access and usage to productive capital and financial services 6. Time allocation 7. Group membership and collective action 8. Gender relevant topics such as freedom of movement, decision-making autonomy, safe and healthy environments, and attitudes & perception about sexual hostility and violence
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Study Stopped