Greetings! Here’s the latest impact investing deal news.
India’s WayCool scores $32 million to improve farmer incomes and food chain efficiency. WayCool got its start in 2015 to improve farmer livelihoods around Chennai by connecting them with retailers and other buyers. Today, the company handles more than 300 tons of fresh fruit, vegetables and other products supplied by 40,000 smallholder farmers daily. WayCool’s model extends from “soil to sale,” including sourcing, processing, branding, marketing as well as pick-up and delivery logistics. That cuts out middlemen along India’s fragmented food chain who can knock down farmers’ incomes. Mumbai-based venture capital firm Lightbox led the company’s $32 million Series C round; prior investors LGT Lightstone and Dutch development finance institution FMO re-upped their support, following WayCool’s $16.9 million equity round last January.
- Supply chain startups. Indian startups leveraging tech to connect farmers directly to markets and customers include TechnifyBiz, which raised $2 million in January to give farming cooperatives a productivity boost and help them sell their products online. Aibono raised a small Series A round last year to use predictive data to help farmers sell their products.
- Growth phase. WayCool’s latest round of funding will be used to build out its tech platform, including automating supply chain functions, expanding its agricultural extension services for farmers, and building an agricultural research center, YourStory reports.
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Louisville’s Access Ventures debuts $15 million Render Capital fund for local entrepreneurs. The new fund will provide early stage equity, debt and revenue-based financing of up to $250,000 to entrepreneurs in Louisville, Ky. and southern Indiana. An annual Render Competition will award up to $100,000 each to eight startups working in advanced manufacturing, health innovation, food and beverage, and other areas. “Entrepreneurship is foundational to economic mobility in the U.S., and greater availability of capital means that more entrepreneurs are able to start and grow their businesses,” says Access Ventures’ Bryce Butler (see, “Quarterbacking capital into Louisville’s neighborhood economies”).
- Capital gap. More than half of Americans cite access to funding as the biggest barrier to starting a business; 83% of entrepreneurs start and grow their companies without venture capital or bank financing. Flexible, patient capital that reaches beyond the coasts is a key pillar of “America’s New Business Plan,” a four-part plan from the Kauffman Foundation to revive entrepreneurship in the U.S., where new business starts have stagnated.
- New Revivalists. Mortar in Cincinnati, Propeller in New Orleans, Runway Project in Oakland, Ben Franklin Tech Partners in cities across Pennsylvania, and Village Capital in cities across the U.S. all support local entrepreneurs with flexible funding (see, “New Revivalists are using these six strategies to revive entrepreneurship and the American Dream”).
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Community Preservation Corporation raises $150 million for affordable housing via sustainability bonds. The non-profit multifamily housing investor is the latest community development financial institution to tap the public bond markets for capital. LISC was first to float such a bond, in 2017, followed by The Reinvestment Fund (see, “A private bond market emerges for low-income community development”). CPC’s bond offering is the largest bond sale yet by a CDFI. The organization is rated AA- by S&P Global. Proceeds will finance “affordable and sustainable” multifamily housing in New York and the Northeast U.S.
GoATL impact fund backs The Reinvestment Fund in Atlanta. GoATL, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s $10 million impact investing initiative, is committing $1.5 million to The Reinvestment Fund’s existing education, job creation and housing work and new early childhood education programs. The Reinvestment Fund intends to replicate its Philadelphia-based Fund for Quality technical assistance support for Atlanta’s child care operators.
Peruvian government invests $21 million in early-stage fund of funds. The Capital Fund for Innovative Enterprises will make investments of $1 million to $10 million in funds supporting Peru’s small and growing businesses. The national development bank COFIDE will manage the fund.
Good Capital backs Entri’s local language app for India’s job candidates. Kerala-based Entri raised $1.4 million to help India’s majority non-native English speakers prepare for public-sector recruitment exams.
–Feb. 11, 2020