Bijak, a business-to-business agricultural trade platform that allows traders, wholesalers and processors to keep a record of their transactions, has raised $2.5 million (Rs 17.74 crore at current exchange rates) in seed funding.
Impact venture fund Omnivore, Omidyar Network India, Sequoia Capital India’s scale-up programme Surge and early-stage investor Better Capital participated in this round, Bijak said in a statement.
The investment marks the first agricultural-technology commitment for Surge and Omidyar. It also marks the second reported investment for Omnivore this month, after it invested $6 million in Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd along with Sathguru Catalyser Advisors Pvt. Ltd, which is the asset management company of the Innovation in Food & Agriculture Fund (IFA Fund).
Bijak, operated by KrishiAcharya Technologies Pvt. Ltd, was enlisted in October in Sequoia’s Surge programme that included about 20 startups. The startups, operating in sectors like education technology, digital media, software services, agri-tech and consumer brands, have collectively raised upwards of $45 million.
Bijak was founded in May this year by Nukul Upadhyaye, Mahesh Jakhotia, Jitender Bedwal, Daya Rai and Nikhil Tripathi. It says it aims to bridge the information gap and lack of accountability in the agricultural commodities trade. Its mobile application is available in several languages and is available in states such as Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.
“We are targeting a $200 billion market in India which has over five million middlemen. Additionally, we have customised the app for agricultural commodity traders, with terminologies used in the mandis [wholesale markets] that they are familiar with,” Upadhyaye said.
Omnivore managing partner Mark Kahn said the venture capital firm was looking to help Bijak scale aggressively as well as leverage its network to explore potential partnerships and acquire strategic B2B customers.
Bijak says it uses its B2B platform to give buyers and sellers of agricultural commodities better prices, increased working capital and optimised logistics. Some of the facilities its platform provides include credit provisions, buyer and seller ratings, bookkeeping, payments and logistics.
Deals in the agri-tech segment
The agriculture-technology segment has recorded growing interest from strategic players and investors, especially impact investors. Players in the space seek to address gaps in India’s existing agricultural processes, as well as provide fair economic incentives to farmers and other members of the ecosystem.
Earlier this month, US retail giant Walmart Inc. and its Indian e-commerce arm Flipkart jointly invested in Ninjacart, a business-to-business marketplace for agricultural produce.
In November, logistics and supply-chain-focused Kamatan raised Rs 30 crore in funding from Chennai-based Samunnati Agro Solutions, which is a wholly owned unit of non-bank lender Samunnati Financial Intermediation & Services Pvt. Ltd.