Agricultural Development Expert to Head CNFA Europe
New European Chief Brings Public, Private-Sector Experience
BELGIUM – Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) has named international agricultural development professional Keith Polo to head up its newly established presence in Europe. Polo will oversee CNFA Europe’s efforts to establish and cultivate relationships with and among new public and private-sector partners, philanthropic groups and international organizations in Europe, as well as increase the number and reach of CNFA initiatives in the region.
“Keith brings with him a record of organizing and overseeing improvements in the performance of food and agricultural systems in some of the most challenging areas of the world,” said CNFA President and Chief Executive Officer Sylvain Roy. “We believe his combination of experience in the for-profit and non-profit worlds—and his ability to broker and shepherd initiatives that have benefited thousands of smallholder farmers—will help CNFA quickly expand its mission both among European donors and partners, and among new clients in the European region.”
Prior to coming to CNFA, Polo focused on using responsible agricultural investments to create inclusive agribusinesses in Africa by working with private equity, development finance institutions, African-based businesses and other partners. After joining the Clinton Foundation in 2014, Polo served as managing director of two private limited companies, Tukula Farming Co. and Moyo Nuts and Seeds, both in Malawi. While overseeing the businesses, he increased their impact on smallholders and communities while improving financial performance.
During the 20 years prior, Polo held senior management, technical and consulting positions at development organizations and agribusiness companies in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia and areas of the former Soviet Union. For 10 years of that time, he led the creation and expansion of Mercy Corps’ global agricultural development practice area. Polo also currently serves as a founding trustee of the Malawi Mangoes Investment Foundation, the community investment arm of Malawi Mangoes, a leading African agribusiness.
“Keith was selected as much for his hands-on expertise as his business acumen,” Roy said. “He not only has worked as manager of many agricultural initiatives for others, but also as a farmer himself. He grew up on his family’s farm in the United States, and today continues to farm alongside his family producing olive oil in central Italy. He brings to his role at CNFA a total understanding of what it means to be a farmer and what it takes to run an agribusiness.”
A former Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, Polo holds a Masters of Science in Agronomy/International Agricultural Development from the University of Illinois, an Advanced Diploma in Sustainability and Food Policy from the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Italy; and an Executive Education in Impact Investing and Financial Analysis from Said School of Business at University of Oxford and the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
CNFA: Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture, an international development organization, specializes in designing sustainable, market-led agricultural initiatives. CNFA builds strong local and global partnerships, incorporates innovative approaches in its programs, and fosters inclusive development to offer enhanced opportunities to under-served groups. Since 1985, CNFA has managed more than $580 million in donor-funded agriculture development programs and has worked in 43 countries across the world in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latina America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and South and Central Asia. CNFA Europe is registered in Belgium as an international non-profit association (Enterprise No: 0634.572.416).