Rabobank, Caspian set up agri-tech focussed debt financing fund
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Dutch banking giant Rabobank and impact investor Caspian have launched the agriculture technology-focused Rabo-Caspian Agtech Financing Fund with an initial corpus of Rs 15 crore (approximately $2.11 million at current exchange rates).

Rabobank and Caspian said in a statement that Agtech Financing Fund will provide customised debt solutions to the companies which are operating in the agri-tech segment for the first time. The fund, in particular, aims at those companies that focusses on data-driven solutions to increase farmer productivity and income.

The fund is also looking to provide growth financing to startups that are seeking to use data to address problems in the food and agriculture sector. It will offer companies collateral-free and cash-flow-matched structured financing products.

Currently, the companies in the food and agri sector have limited access to debt-based solutions.

Avishek Gupta, investment director at Caspian Impact Investments Pvt. Ltd, said, the firm and Rabobank were ensuring that agri-tech startups have access to funds.

Separately, Rabobank executive director for rural and development banking/advisory said the Dutch bank would provide balance sheet support and sector-based knowledge that will be helpful for Caspian to understand domestic agriculture and technology markets.

The announcement of the financing facility comes after Rabobank’s venture capital fund, which invests in early-stage financial technology and agri-tech companies, struck its debut deal in India in May.

In an interview with VCCircle, Rabo Frontier Ventures managing partner Harrie Vollaard said India has a great pool of talent along with a vibrant startup scene. “We are looking for those ambitious companies which have the potential to make an impact on a global scale,” Vollaard added.

Caspian funds enterprises are socially responsible and offers financial value. The firm has managed to float four funds till now: The Bellwether Microfinance Fund, the India Financial Inclusion Fund, Caspian Impact Investments Pvt. Ltd. and the Caspian SME Impact Fund.

In agri-tech segment, the company invested an undisclosed sum of money in Ecozen Solutions Pvt. Ltd. in July along with Hivos-Triodos Fund, which is a joint venture between the Netherlands-based Triodos Bank and Dutch non-profit Hivos. Ecozen makes products targeted at farmers to help them grow yields.

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