Ooty-based Lawrencedale Agro Processing India Pvt. Ltd, which supplies farm fresh vegetables to organised retailers in south India under the brand ‘Leaf’, has raised an undisclosed amount in a fresh fundraising from Denmark-based BESTSELLER FOUNDATION and US-based venture capital fund Unitus Impact.
Lawrencedale will use the fresh capital to expand its reach across South India and plans to reach out to more horticulture belts, the company said in a statement.
BESTSELLER FOUNDATION was established as a private philanthropic foundation in June 2015 by the family which owns BESTSELLER A/S, a family-owned clothing and accessories firm which owns more than 20 fashion brands including Vero Moda. The family ran social and cultural projects in another foundation from 1995 to 2014, before they decided to scale up and transfer ongoing projects to BESTSELLER FOUNDATION in 2015.
VCCircle had reported in late 2015 that a newly formed impact fund from the family office of a European fashion brand will lead an investment round of $10 million in LEAF.
Lawrencedale was seed-funded by Soros Economic Development Fund-backed Aspada Investments.
“More than 80% 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,” said Kristian Sloth Petersen, managing director of BESTSELLER FOUNDATION.
Lawrencedale works with over 3,000 farmers across South India and plans to grow its network to 10,000 farmers over the next few years. It claims to handle more than 7,000 tonnes of fresh produce annually and work with more than 300 retail stores across South India.
According to VCCEdge, the data research platform of News Corp VCCircle, Lawrencedale had raised around $2.31 million in two tranches of seed funding—$1.84 million in 2013 and $470,000 in mid 2015.
Unitus Impact, a sister firm of Unitus Seed Fund, is an early-stage impact investor that focuses on firms in India besides a few countries in Southeast Asia. It had recently completed fundraising for its maiden Livelihood Impact Fund.
Impact investing or investment in social enterprises focused on businesses that cater to the mass market and low-income segments, has been on a steady rise in India for quite some time. “Globally, most dedicated funds investing in social ventures have grown significantly in the last 5-10 years and India has been their largest market by a margin,” Eric Savage, co-founder and CEO of Unitus Capital, the investment bank that works in this segment, had said in an earlier interaction with VCCircle. “Many of them are increasing their presence in India and dedicating more capital to it,” Savage had said.
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