Peru Opportunity Fund stems from its founding family’s deep personal connection to rural Peru.
The family's ties to Peru began when young German shipping merchant Juan Gildemeister opened an export trading company in Lima, Peru more than 160 years ago. What set him apart, even in the mid-1800s, was his willingness to take risks to achieve his vision while offering a helping hand for others to achieve theirs.
After years as a successful trader, Juan came into possession of a large sugar plantation. It grew to be one of the largest sugar plantations in the world, Casa Grande. Juan’s descendants, including the family of Peru Opportunity Fund founder
Sabina Cournoyer Gildemeister, continued to work the plantation. It was ahead of its time in resource management and technical innovations. Every bit of the plant and land was maximized. For instance, careful planning ensured the fields would mature one at a time so that the cane could be processed by the mill within optimum time. The fibrous part of the cane was dried and pressed into solid squares that were recycled as fuel for the boiler as well as to generate electricity. The dregs of the sap were used as a sticky spray to keep the dust on the unpaved roads from asphyxiating pedestrians.
To this day, the founders are admired for their effective use of techniques that may have been known by others but were rarely used so comprehensively.
It is from these roots that Hampshire Foundation, Inc. was created in 2000, allowing the third and fourth generation of Gildemeisters to continue to foster the vision of their ancestors and give back to the country of their origin. From the start, the majorityof thefamily’s giving has focused on helping to improve the lives of people in rural Peru.
The mission of Peru Opportunity Fund is to help smallholder farmers enhance their productivity and make informed choices about their land, crops and livelihoods by giving them access to simple technologies, information and capital.
Their objective is to continue generating high-impact interventions for smallholders, using an expanded choice of financing that includes grants as well as debt & equity investments. Their strategy focuses on the efficiency, sustainability and scalability of the intervention, and they increasingly expect to measure performance through real-time mobile technology at the farmer-level. All of these efforts intend to maximize their impact, for the greatest number of farmers.
In parallel to continuously searching for impact investment opportunities in the agricultural sector of Peru, they also seek to strengthen the Peruvian ecosystem by collaborating with cooperatives of farmers, entrepreneurs, social lenders, businesses, NGOs, and Government.