Nabard fund ploughs into former Paytm exec’s startup
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An agricultural-technology startup whose co-founders include a former executive of digital financial services firm Paytm has raised funding from a venture growth equity vehicle backed by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard).

Akshaamala Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates agri-input and produce platform Unnati, has raised $1.7 million (Rs 12.4 crore) in pre-Series A funding.

The Noida-based company has raised this capital from Nabventures Fund.

The fund makes investments across a company’s early- to mid-growth stages. It bets on firms in the agriculture, food, rural businesses, and agricultural and rural financial services segments.

Unnati was set up by Amit Sinha and Ashok Prasad. Sinha has worked with several companies, including Airtel, Infosys, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

He has also served as the chief financial officer of Paytm. Prasad has worked with companies including Ericsson, Nokia, and Nortel Networks.

The company says it has positioned itself as a technology-based platform for providing competitively priced inputs to farmers, as well as using its network of partner stores to provide them with access to better markets and prices. Apart from this, it gives financial services to farmers.

It will use the capital it has raised to enhance its technological infrastructure and grow its network of partner stores.

“The predictive capabilities of the data captured by the platform enhances efficiencies while its transparent processes help in building trust among farmers and FPOs (farmer producer organisations),” Nabard and Nabventures chairman GR Chintala said.

Nabventures in May last year floated a Rs 700 crore (around $100 million) venture capital fund. That marked the first time Nabard had launched a fund of its own; it had till that time been investing in other VC funds as a limited partner.

In June this year, Nabventures took part in a Rs 30 crore (around $3.9 million) pre-Series A funding round in Jai Kisan, a lending platform for the farming community. The exercise was led by Arkam Ventures, with participation from Blume Ventures, Prophetic Ventures and Better Capital.

Its investment in Unnati is indicative of the larger interest that agri-tech startups have evinced from traditional investors and developmental institutions.

Last month, AI-powered fresh food aggregation platform Aibono Smart Farming Pvt. Ltd raised $2 million (around Rs 14.6 crore) from Rebright Partners, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital and Lesing Artha, a subsidiary of Rianta Capital.

In August, BigHaat Agro Pvt. Ltd, which operates an online agricultural inputs platform, secured more than $2 million in a pre-Series A funding round.

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