19 Sep LEAF Raises Series B Led by Unitus Impact
Lawrencedale Agro Processing India Pvt Ltd. (LEAF) has raised an undisclosed Series B round of funding from U.S.-based venture capital fund, Unitus Impact and Denmark-based BESTELLER Foundation.
LEAF is a complete service provider along the entire agricultural value chain from field to retailer. The company embraces an integrated approach that includes best farming practices, the supply of genetically advanced inputs, technical support that lowers post-harvest waste, access to cold storage facilities, and the processing, packaging, and transporting of fresh produce to end users in order to ensure the accessibility of high quality, fresh foods. Noting the shift by India’s consumers toward a preference for value-added, branded foods, LEAF began branding cleaned, graded, and packaged vegetables under the LEAF brand in 2012.
“Our processing unit strives to ensure zero-residue across products by adopting latest innovations in ozone washing. The fresh produce (vegetables) is safe for consumption – and our method is dependable,” said R. Balakrishnan, LEAF CFO and co-founder.
Founded in June 2015, BESTSELLER Foundation is a private philanthropic initiative that invests in companies that target an integrated impact and the alleviation of poverty through the development of sustainable agriculture and food value chains, the conservation of the environment, and the development of sustainable jobs.
Unitus Impact fund invests in scalable businesses that have the potential to improve the lives of the poor throughout the fastest growing economies in Asia. From its offices in San Francisco, Bangalore, Hanoi, and Jakarta, the firm has made investments in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam so far.
“Our core focus is on investing in scalable companies that improve the livelihoods of the working poor by addressing market inefficiencies and optimizing supply chains,” said Geoffrey “Chester” Woolley, CEO, Unitus Impact. “LEAF is working extensively to engage with small farmers to improve their efficiency and price realization for small land-hold farmers.”
LEAF will use this round of fresh capital to fund the company’s geographic expansion throughout South India and to engage in a broader number of horticulture belts. Currently, the company engages with 3,000 farmers and handles 7,000 tons of fresh produce per year and works with more than 300 retailers across South India. Within the next few years, the company is looking to expand its operations to a scale where it engages with 10,000 farmers.
“We are delighted to partner with LEAF which is making a significant positive impact in the lives of fresh produce farmers in India,” said Kristian Sloth Petersen, managing director, BESTSELLER Foundation. “More than 80 percent of farmers in India hold less than 2-hectares of land and given the fact that LEAF works extensively with them for livelihood improvement, the investment fits perfectly with our philosophy of working to improve sustainable agriculture value chains.”
LEAF raised an undisclosed Series A in 2013 from Aspada Investment Company, backed by the Soros Economic Development Fund – one of the first major investors in early stage agricultural ventures in India. In March of this year, Aspada also invested US$3.2 million in Mumbai-based InI Farms Pvt Ltd. – a fresh fruit supply chain facilitation company focused on pomegranates and bananas.