Keith Polo is a seasoned international agricultural development professional known for his extensive work forming and managing public-private partnerships that improve the performance of food and agricultural systems in some of the world’s most challenging locations and emerging market contexts, such as Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Nepal. Over the past 20 years his work has spanned several major development organizations and inclusive agribusiness companies in a variety of senior management, technical, and consulting roles across Latin America, Africa, East and West Europe, the former Soviet Union areas, and Asia. Most recently his work has focused on expanding responsible agricultural investments into inclusive agribusinesses in Africa in executive management roles working directly with private equity, development finance institutions, African-based businesses and other development partners.
For 10 years, Keith led the creation and expansion of Mercy Corps’ global agricultural development practice area, positioning the organization as a global leader in market-based agricultural development via new programs and partnerships that improved the well-being of nearly 1 million smallholder farmers annually. Since 2012, Keith has focused on expanding responsible agribusiness investment in emerging markets, particularly in Africa. He was Principal, Responsible Agricultural Investments with the ImagineNations Group, partnered and embedded with leading private equity groups, multinationals companies, strategic philanthropic partners, and agribusinesses across Africa. He is also founder and managing partner of EnvisionAg LLC, a specialty firm focused on capital raising, due diligence, and well-being investment strategies for inclusive agribusinesses in emerging markets. In 2014, he joined the Clinton Foundation and has been Managing Director of Tukula Farming Company and Moyo Nuts and Seeds, two privately held companies in Malawi, where he has functioned as start-up CEO of each company and brought each onto a high-performance track of dual fiscal performance and inclusive smallholder and community impact. Further to his experience in blending private and philanthropic capital streams, he is a founding trustee of the Malawi Mangoes Investment Foundation, which is the community investment arm of Malawi Mangoes, a leading African agribusiness working in the fruit production and processing sector.
Keith has an MS 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, Italy; and Executive Education in Impact Investing and Financial Analysis from Said School of Business, University of Oxford, and Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, respectively. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia working on agricultural extension initiatives. He grew up on a family farm in the central United States and also owns and operates a niche-market olive oil farm with his family in central Italy.