ImpactAlpha, August 11 – San Francisco-based venture capital firm AgFunder launched its GROW accelerator in Singapore last year to support Asia’s agrifood tech ecosystem. It’s now adding an impact fund to support seed and Series A ventures, including companies from GROW’s first cohort.
The fund is targeting $20 to $30 million to make investments of $100,000 to $400,000 in companies digitizing agriculture and addressing food waste, greenhouse gas emissions, soil health and food insecurity.
The fund is mapping its impact to the Sustainable Development Goals.
AgFunder, which operates three other early-stage funds, has been looking to launch an impact fund for several years, but impact wasn’t on agrifood tech investors’ radar, AgFunder’s Michael Dean told ImpactAlpha. That changed with COVID, which has made food security a top priority, particularly in Singapore, where food supplies from Malaysia were threatened by border closures.
“Food security is a big issue, but no one was paying attention because they were all getting food on their tables,” AgFunder’s Michael Dean told ImpactAlpha. “COVID pushed it to the forefront.”
GROW’s portfolio includes India-based ViridisRS, which uses aerial surveillance and sensors to help smallholder farmers map their plots and gain access to finance and insurance (SDG No. 1: no poverty, 2: zero hunger, 8: decent work and economic growth). Future Fields is cultivating cells as a medium for lab-grown meat production (SDG No. 3: health and well-being, 12: responsible consumption 15: life on land).
AgFunder is building its own framework to track and report on the GROW fund’s impact. Dean admits that it is challenging, because the impacts of early technologies are not always obvious or easy to quantify.
“We are working through it,” Dean said of the SDG and impact mapping. “And if we are bullshitting, people will find that out quickly.”
Jessica Pothering is a contributing reporter to AgFunder’s news site, AFN.