Bangalore-based Aspada Investment Company has raised $10 million from US-based Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), which supports economic development. The funding will be used to back early-stage businesses to make education, healthcare and financial services more accessible to low-income people in India.

Aspada provides early-stage risk capital to businesses that help expand market access, improve livelihood and create large-scale employment opportunities in underserved communities. It makes both equity and debt-like self-liquidating investments and backs agricultural supply chain companies in an effort to support small farmers.

Aspada has already announced its first investment in an end-to-end fresh vegetable supply chain called Lawrencedale Agri Processing. Lawrencedale operates in the Nilgiri belt in southern India, aggregating fresh produce from farmers and selling it under the LEAF brand to retail consumers in major markets. This investment has been made in a bid to help increase the income of small farmers.

“SEDF’s goal with this investment is to help small holder farmers boost their incomes and make healthcare, schooling and financial services more available and affordable to a broader range of people,” said Fawzia Naqvi, vice-president at the Soros Economic Development Fund.

Soros promotes economic opportunities and access to information, products and services for underserved populations and invests in sustainable businesses or initiatives that strive to alleviate poverty by creating jobs and revitalising deteriorating communities. The fund was started in 1997 and is based in New York.

This is the second investment by Soros in India. In 2008, the fund created $17 million SONG Fund, along with Omidyar Network, Google and Indian School of Business.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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