As part of the firm’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program, a cross-office Sidley team assisted our client Caribbean Sea and Air Marketing Company Limited (CSAM) with a memorandum of understanding that will allow the company to access funding from 2022 through 2024 from the Global Environment Facility, a partner agency of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Global Environment Facility is one of the world’s largest dedicated funders of projects to improve the global environment in developing countries.
CSAM’s founder and Managing Director, Mark Forgenie, expressed appreciation for the team’s work, saying: “Sidley gives us the personal attention we needed to grow our business, and we are privileged to have their support.”
The Sidley team has been working with CSAM on a pro bono basis since 2019 and has provided CSAM with guidance on intellectual property needs assessments, including a trademark for the company’s product, Moruga Hill rice, which is sold under the brand name Vista Dorado Estates. The team also helped CSAM with a joint venture agreement.
For Sidley associate Zach Johnston, helping the company with matters such as the recent memorandum of understanding has been a rewarding experience. “CSAM has very high energy, and it has been great to work with them,” said Johnston.
Moruga Hill rice is a nutritious dryland rice that is indigenous to the hillsides of Moruga on the central south coast of Trinidad. The all-natural, non-GMO rice is intercropped with various fruits, vegetables, and animal feeds. It is traditionally farmed by hand, which has kept production on a relatively small scale; however, CSAM pioneered a mechanized methodology to allow large-scale farming of the rice while adhering to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of Zero Hunger, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Reduced Inequalities.
CSAM encourages other Moruga Hill rice farmers to expand their own production by offering their equipment for rent. In addition, CSAM provides consultation services focusing on the eco-friendly production of Moruga Hill rice to encourage the highest yields and nutritional value possible. The company aims to bring this nutty-flavored, nutritious wild rice to the world both locally and through an export campaign, which began in 2020.
In addition to Johnston, the Sidley team included partners Stephen Fronk and Tommer Yoked.
Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises Pro Bono Program, which is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, provides free legal support to eligible small- and medium-size, for-profit enterprises and market-focused nongovernmental organizations and nonprofits that have a clear social impact in developing countries.