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Swiss impact investor responsAbility bets on organic food exporter Suminter
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Switzerland-based responsAbility Investments AG has invested in organic food exporter Suminter India Organics Pvt. Ltd, marking its second deal in the food and agriculture sector in the country.

The impact investor picked up a minority stake in Suminter through the transaction, according to a press statement. It didn’t disclose the amount of investment.

Akshay Dua, regional head of private equity investments in the agriculture sector at responsAbility, said that Suminter combines double-digit growth rates with tangible development impact and that it “exactly fits the profile” of companies the Swiss investor is looking for to make investments.

Suminter was founded by Sameer Mehra in 2004. Its sources, processes and exports organic produce such as soya, spices and herbs, cocoa, virgin coconut oil, vanilla, sugar, cereals and pulses, and cotton.

The company says its sourcing and processing operations are spread across Asia and Africa and it has customers across 20 countries, including the US. It works with about 50,000 farmers.

Suminter reported revenue of Rs 528 crore for 2016-17, up from Rs 334 crore the previous year. Net profit tripled to Rs 43.7 crore from Rs 14.4 crore, according to VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle.

Mehra, along with his family, holds a minority stake in the company. The company's external investors are venture capital firm Nexus Venture Partners and alternative asset management firm Capricorn Investment Group, besides responsAbility.

Suminter had raised $3 million in its first external funding round in December 2007 from Nexus. The company raised more capital from Nexus, Capricorn and Skoll Foundation in December 2009. It secured fresh funding in January 2015 from Nexus and Capricorn.

In September last year, International Finance Corporation, the World Bank’s private-sector investment arm, said it planned to make an equity investment of up to $20 million in Suminter. The IFC board later approved an investment of $10.66 million, according to a disclosure on its website.

responsAbility

Founded in 2003, responsAbility provides debt and equity financing predominantly to unlisted companies in emerging economies. It has invested in about 540 companies in 90 countries.

In India’s food and agriculture sector, the impact investor backed Delhi-based farm logistics services provider Sohan Lal Commodity Management Pvt. Ltd last year.

It has also invested in non-banking financial company Kinara Capital, Samunnati Financial, biomass aggregator Punjab Renewable Energy Systems, sanitary services provider Saraplast Pvt. Ltd and BPO service provider DesiCrew Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

Organic food companies

A few other organic food companies have also raised funding in recent years.

Mumbai-listed LT Foods Ltd, best known for its packaged rice brand Daawat, raised Rs 140 crore (around $20 million) in fresh funding from existing investor Rabo Equity Advisors for wholly owned unit Nature Big Foods Ltd.

Last year, Brand Capital, the ad-for-equity investment arm of media house Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd, invested in Hyderabad-based organic food manufacturer Sresta Natural Bioproducts Pvt. Ltd.

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