Here's a minor #Dealflow scoop: UK-based WeFarm is close to closing a $2 million fundraising round, led by an unnamed commercial venture capital fund.
The mobile network is a knowledge sharing platform for remote smallholder farmers, coordinating and vetting SMS-based questions and answers. To date, over 70,000 farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Peru have signed up and exchanged almost 11 million questions and tips. WeFarm’s CEO Kenny Ewan told ImpactAlpha that the company started as an NGO with a purely social mission, but its latest financing round includes more commercial investors than impact investors. WeFarm was also the recipient of a $200,000 grant as a finalist in The Venture, a social enterprise competition hosted by Chivas Regal.
Celebrity impact. Matt Damon’s water charity water.org announced plans to raise a $50 million seed fund for social impact ventures. The Kansas City, Mo.-based investment arm, called WaterCapital, was launched last year and has raised $10 million for water and sanitation projects in India. The fund’s goal is to add another $40 million to expand its investments across South and Southeast Asia. The capital will be invested as senior debt and partial loan guarantees into small businesses and cooperatives, as well as private utilities and sector-related financial institutions.
Microfinance Exit. Indian venture capital firm Aavishkaar has exited Suryoday Micro Finance. Aavishkaar had been an investor in the microfinance company since 2009, having committed 38.5 crore rupees ($5.7 million) for a 23 percent equity stake. Aavishkaar made separate investments in Suryoday through its two funds Aavishkaar Goodwell I and Aavishkaar Goodwell II funds, which are managed with investment firm Goodwell Investments. The exit aligned with Suryoday’s new raise of 100 crore rupees from a number of domestic Indian investors including IDFC Bank, ASK Group and HDFC Life.
Pay for Success. The government of New South Wales in Australia is launching a social impact bond focusing on criminal recidivism. The amount of the SIB has not been announced, however it will cover the creation of a new program to provide 3,900 parolees with intensive support in community reintegration over the next five years. The NSW government developed the bond as part of an effort to reduce recidivism rates by 5 percent. National Australia Bank and the Australian Community Support Organisation have signed on to invest in the program.
Tech and textiles. Unitus Seed Fund has invested an undisclosed amount of capital in Urban Tailor, an online hub for independent tailors in India. The platform supports tailors’ income regularity by connecting them to a stable customer-base, while improving the reliability and quality of tailoring services for users. The company launched last year and is serving 20,000 customers in the city of Bangalore. It reports having 40 percent month-on-month growth and 52 percent repeat customers. Urban Tailor will use the investment to expand its order handling capacity and add additional services.
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