TIFS launches initiative in East Africa to map impact investments in food and agriculture systems

Regional research will provide insights into local investment requirements, ensuring relevance to existing services and programs that make up the area’s agribusiness ecosystem.

LOUISVILLE, CO—TIFS, the Transformational Investing in Food Systems initiative, today announced an ambitious program to assess and map investments in private capital impact funds focused on food and agricultural businesses in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The 6-month mapping project, the first initiative of its kind, will engage with fund managers, investors, entrepreneurs, and business service providers to find new ways to collaborate and improve investment outcomes at a food system level. TIFS is working with Shona, a business development service provider in Uganda, and research and strategic advisory firm ISF Advisors,  to complete the mapping. Funding for the program is provided by the 11th Hour Project and other funding partners.

“Food systems should provide food security and nutrition for all, dignified livelihoods for food producers and workers, a stable climate, and healthy, diverse ecosystems, but current food systems fall far short of these goals,” said TIFS Director Rex Raimond.

“Our research aims to identify ways to realign public and private capital in ways that accelerate the transition to food systems that generate positive non-financial and financial returns.”

Photo: IFAD/Edward Echwalu

Why East Africa?

East Africa will be the initial geographic area to test the regional mapping approach, and findings will be shared to support work in other regions. Given the momentum and alignment of relevant activities in East Africa, TIFS intends to complement the important work of other organizations, including:

  • The Alliance for Food Sovereignty’s ongoing research, convening, policy, and advocacy for agroecological enterprises and territorial markets
  • Biovision Foundation and Shona’s work to create the Agroecology Accelerator as part of a program to develop the business case for agroecology
  • Rootical, a start-up studio, that aims to build regenerative enterprise startups in Uganda
  • Growing national agri-business networks such as the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance
  • The Agroecology Fund’s initiative to create a regional fund for East Africa
  • The Capitals Coalition’s TEEB for Business pilot project in Kenya
  • Various organizations working to integrate food systems into national plans for climate adaptation, food and nutrition security, forest and biodiversity protection, and economic development.

New Tools

The mapping project will leverage two new assessment tools developed by TIFS, ISF Advisors, Biovision Foundation and Metabolic: The Agroecology Criteria Tool for Business and the Systems Investing Assessment Tool. These tools incorporate a holistic approach in evaluating the impact objectives of investments in East Africa. The Systems Investing Tool will be used to assess intended systemic impacts of impact funds and the fund’s capacity to deliver those objectives.

In addition to mapping the intended outcomes of 25 impact funds operating in East Africa, TIFS will use the mapping exercises to experiment with new approaches to connect values-aligned investors, fund managers, entrepreneurs, and service providers. These will include collaborative approaches that involve multiple stakeholders and power sharing models that involve embracing complexity and differences within food systems. The mapping initiative will also educate investors about the opportunities to invest in values-aligned fund managers and their relative impact and demonstrate how the SIA can be used to assess investment funds using a systems approach.

“In a world of imminent climate change, dramatically rising inequality and strongly degraded soils and water resources, we need to look beyond conventional food and agricultural funding solutions,” said Ivan Mandela, Co-Founder and Director of Investment, Shona.


TIFS, the Transformational Investing in Food Systems (TIFS) Initiative, is building a global food systems investing movement that generates positive non-financial and financial returns. We focus on strategic investments that are economically viable and deliver sustainable impact. Our holistic approach recognizes the full value of farm and business practices that contribute to vibrant local economies and healthy ecosystems. And our tools help investors ensure that their investments are doing good in the world and not causing harm. TIFS is an Allied Initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food and partners with the Agroecology Fund and other aligned initiatives to advance food systems transformation.


This article was originally published by TIFS