The fund intends to significantly improve the value chain of the Agr-Food industry, majorly in the upstream segment. With a focus on technology, LEAF aims to invest in about 12 startups.
Caspian Equity, a Hyderabad-based venture capital fund that invests in social impact startups, has launched a new equity fund, LEAF (Leap for Agriculture Fund), focusing on early-stage Agri-Food startups. LEAF intends to achieve positive social and environmental impact through its investments. It aims to attain attractive financial returns by emphasising closely working with the portfolio companies to provide the required support.
“Caspian LEAF will focus on high impact, close to farmer solutions that benefit small and marginal farmers. Some of the spaces we are looking at are, efficiency in input use, reduction in drudgery, labour saving farm machinery, close to farm processing and traceability solutions. We hope to be more than just investors, and help build robust and sustainable businesses that become market leaders in the spaces they operate in,” Emmanuel Murray, Investment Director at Caspian Equity and Fund Manager of Caspian LEAF Fund.
The fund, which has a size of Rs 52 crore, will invest in pre-series A startups with ticket sizes ranging from Rs 1-5 crore. The fund expects to invest in 12 startups and has already secured commitments from leading investors such as IndusInd Bank, Sivakumar Surampudi, Kishore Moorjani, Swaminathan Aiyar and Shyamprasad Bhat.
Commenting on the investment Srinivas Bonam, Head Inclusive Banking Group, IndusInd Bank, says, “Caspian Equity has been one of the earliest entrants in the impact investing space, with an impressive track record of making investments in some of best-known impact organisations in India. It is heartening to see such an experienced and talented team enter the early-stage agri based startup segment and nurture young companies from the grassroot level. Our investment in this endeavor is a vote of confidence that we place in this upcoming venture. I wish the team great success.”
The fund aims to combine access to equity in the critical years of transaction and scale-up startup operations with close operational support and oversight of governance structures. The fund intends to significantly improve the value chain of Agriculture, majorly on the upstream segment, which will address pain points across different elements of the agri value chain.
Caspian LEAF fund will emphasise closely working with startups to provide support in addition to attaining attractive financial returns. Well-known economist, journalist, and columnist Swaminathan Aiyar has also invested in Caspian LEAF and feels “The rich experience that Caspian Equity has acquired in about 20 years of impact investing has made it into one of the veterans of this sector. The Leaf Fund by Caspian Equity will not only invest in companies in Agri sector but also provide them with governance and technical guidance. My investment in the fund is driven by my belief in market economy and abilities of Caspian.”
“The Launch of Caspian LEAF fund is consistent with long term vision of Caspian Equity to work closely with early-stage entrepreneurs and is fifth fund in the impact sector. The fourth fund on Small Medium Enterprise is doing well despite the Covid headwinds for more than two years and we hope to consistently repeat the strong performance with LEAF in Agri/Agri-tech space,” says Saurabh Johri, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer at Caspian Equity.
About Caspian Equity
Caspian is a 15-year-old impact investing fund. Caspian funds enterprises that are socially responsible and deliver both social and financial value. The impact investing firm has managed four funds till now: The Bellwether Microfinance Fund (exited), the India Financial Inclusion Fund (exited), Caspian Debt and the Caspian SME Impact Fund. Caspian LEAF is the 5th fund, and will focus on early-stage food & agribusiness startups.