Project Loans

Merkur Development Loans Ltd grants loans to third world companies working with organic or biodynamic production, fair trade, sustainable forestry (FSC) or renewable energy.

Gourmet Cocoa from Latin America

Xoco Fine Cocoa Company in Nicaragua has started a large scale production of fine cocoa. Xoco Fine Cocoa Company is certified by Rainforest Alliance which contributes to maintaining a high degree of biodiversity in the rainforests and protecting the environment and the local community.

Xoco Fine Cocoa Company will sell its chocolate products on the gourmet market. The cocoa is grown by more than 600 small farmers in the Latin American countries, often organised in cooperatives. The farmers are contractually guaranteed a fixed minimum price as well as an additional price amounting to the market price plus 25%.

Xoco Fine Cocoa Company sells high quality cocoa trees to the farmers and offers them intensive training and counselling. The farmers are granted loans on fair conditions permitting them to buy the trees. The loans are granted via Xoco Finance S.A and are only to be repaid when the harvesting begins. The loan in Merkur Development Loans Ltd. is granted to Xoco Finance S.A and will be used to finance the planting of 4 million trees with a yearly yield of roughly 4.000 tonnes of fine cocoa.

www.xocogourmet.com

Jam from Mozambique

First Natural Choice Ltd. in Mozambique has been granted a loan which will be used for buying jars for the production of jam to be sold in Mozambique. The fruit in the jam is organic, but at present it is difficult to find organic sugar, so the jam will be produced and sold without being certified as organic in order to keep the factory and the farmers’ production of ecological fruit going.

First Natural Choice Ltd. has obtained an organic group certification through EcoCert in South Africa and is supplied with organic fruit from a number of local farmers. They plan to develop a production of organic frozen fruit pulp for yoghurt and exotic jams for the European market. First Class Natural Choice Ltd. will be working as a local entrepreneurial centre supporting local initiatives with mainly women entrepreneurs.

Stoves in Tanzania

Kiwia & Laustsen Ltd. has been granted a loan for the production of small household stoves to be fuelled with Jatropha nuts. Jatropha nuts contain large amounts of oil which is normally extracted for use in lamps. The stove design allows for fuelling the stove with whole nuts, thus making this the first stove of its kind. The loan will be used to produce 6,500 stoves.

Kiwia & Laustsen Ltd. has established a partnership with a development organisation in Tanzania which buys the stoves and distributes them to the farmers. The farmers also learn how to grow their own Jatropha trees. The Jatropha trees will not be grown in the fields but serve as hedge plants as they are not eaten by domestic animals. Other advantages of this production: the composted Jatropha leaves will improve the quality of the other crops; the trees will prevent soil erosion and mark the field boundaries.

The growing of the Jatropha trees around the families’ fields will provide each family with enough nuts for their own consumption and still leave them with some for selling. The primary purpose is to cover the household’s needs and spare the women the tiresome burden of having to find firewood. Using Jatropha as an energy source will also protect the surrounding areas from deforestation.

Cocoa and vanilla from Uganda and DR Congo

Gourmet Gardens is a family owned limited company working in both Uganda and DR Congo. The couple behind the company is German and French/Congolese. The proceeds of the loan of EUR 65,000 will serve to develop the company’s production of double certified (i.e. organic and fair trade) cocoa, vanilla and chili. The company has obtained a large grant and interest-free loan from a large foundation in order to train and organize about 1,300 smallholders and to establish decentralized processing facilities. Both activities intend to improve quality and hence the price of the products. Gourmet Gardens sell Vanilla and vanilla products, vanilla flowers (for the perfume industry), cocoa and – to a lesser degree – chilies. The buyers of vanilla and cocoa are producers of fine chocolate, cakes, ice and confectionery. It is expected that in the project period the company will grow to employ about 140 people all the appr. 1,500 families involved are expected to augment their incomes considerably.

www.mountains-of-the-moon.com

Coffee from Peru

This new customer – Cafeperu for short – is a closed shareholding company established by 6 coffee cooperatives in Peru, each consisting of a large number of coffee producing smallholders. Cafeperu offers technical, organizational and financial support to the cooperatives with the aim of ensuring a higher quality coffee which in turn will ensure better income. Cafeperu has also established modern processing and packaging facilities and is in charge of the export of coffee. Almost all the coffee is double certified, i.e. organic and fair trade.

The whole coffee producing business in Latin America suffers under an extreme dependence on very short term financing tied up with the coffee harvest and exports of every single year – with maturities of as little as 6-12 months, even though there are both land, buildings and machinery to be financed.

As a little contribution to a more appropriate financing scheme, Merkur Development Loans has granted a loan of 250,000 USD with a maturity of five years. 

www.cafe-peru.com

Wild cocoa from Bolivia

Maybe Bolivia is primarily known for its highland – the Altiplano - with the saltlake, the quinua and the highland Indians. But the northeastern part of Bolivia bordering on Brazil harbours the Bolivian part of the mighty Amazon Jungle. This is the home of the wild cocoa. Here it has grown for thousands of years on little islands in a widespread river basin. The Baldiviezo/Vacaflores couple established the company SUMAR in 2001 to process this wild cocoa. When they met the Danish chef and chocolatier Rasmus Bo Bojesen who was looking for a supplier of wild cocoa for his high-end chocolate production, it was the perfect match. They now run a so-called B2B project partly supported by Danida – the Danish development organization – and the chocolate has its own brand, Oialla. With the help of the DKK 290,000 loan from Merkur Development Loans SUMAR is busy making the investments which will allow them to increase the capacity and improve the quality of the cocoa so that it always matches the high quality standards of Bojesen and other discerning high-end chocolatiers.

www.oialla.dk

Merkur Development Loans Ltd. - Vesterbrogade 40 - DK-1620 Copenhagen V • development@merkur.dk