India: Agri processor LEAF raises Series B funding from Bestseller Foundation, Unitus Impact

India: Agri processor LEAF raises Series B funding from Bestseller Foundation, Unitus Impact

Lawrencedale Agro Processing Pvt. Ltd (LEAF) Monday said it has secured investment in a Series B round from US-based venture capital fund Unitus Impact and Denmark-based BESTSELLER Foundation. The Ooty-based start-up, backed by the investment arm of Soros Economic Development Fund, did not disclose the amount raised.

The company said in a statement that it will utilise the money to expand its presence across South India and engage within a significant larger number of horticulture belts.

Earlier in 2013, LEAF had raised its Series-A funding from the Aspada Investment Company, backed by the Soros Economic Development Fund, in lieu of a 40 per cent stake. Lawrencedale Estate and Farms Pvt. Ltd is the holding company of Lawrencedale Agro, the only other shareholder in the company.

“More than 80 per cent 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,” Kristian Sloth Petersen, managing director, BESTSELLER Foundation said.

“BESTSELLER Foundation and Unitus Impact will be great partners for us in building LEAF further,” said Kushal Agrawal, CFO, Aspada Investment Advisors.

BESTSELLER Foundation was established as a private philanthropic foundation in June 2015 by the family behind BESTSELLER and contributes to commercially driven inclusive and sustainable development. It invests in, builds, and facilitates linkages between talented entrepreneurs and promising companies that build on business models with integrated impact.

Lawrencedale cleans, packs and brands farm produce as LEAF and supplies them to retailers. On an average, the company handles more than 7,000 tonnes fresh produce annually and works with more than 300 retail stores across South India including top retail chains such as Spar Hypermarket, Star Bazaar, Aditya Birla More, Future Group and Godrej Nature’s Basket.

Lawrencedale provides farmers genetically superior planting materials, technical support to reduce post-harvest loss, cold storage facilities, state-of-the-art facilities for processing the produce, and packaging and transporting the produce to the end user.

It works with over 3,000 farmers across South India and is looking to expand its scope of operations to engage with more than 10,000 farmers over the next few years.

“Our end-to-end integrated cold-store value chain with significant investments in post-harvest management is bringing about a noticeable impact in not only to the lives of farmers but to end-consumers of fresh produce and retailers who are struggling to source quality fresh produce,” added Vijayaraghavan.

Unitus Impact is a venture capital firm that invests in scalable companies working to increase incomes and improve the livelihoods of the working poor in South East Asia and India. Currently, Unitus Impact has investments in China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Apart from Lawrencedale, there a number of such companies, including Lemon Leaf and Mumbai-based start-up White Shadow Technology Pvt. Ltd, which are providing solutions for the problem of poor agricultural supply chain in India.

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