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Oikocredit backs Indian organic food and affordable housing startups

ImpactAlpha, May 29 – Oikocredit, a Dutch impact investment organization, is known primarily for lending to microfinance institutions by pooling capital from investors and lenders. This month, it made two equity investments in startups in India.

Along with 021 Capital, Oikocredit backed YCook, a Bangalore-based startup that sources organic produce from smallholder farmers and sells it through retailers as ready-to-cook meals. YCook, which will use the money to expand and improve its products, also offers farmers soil testing and crop advice.

In its second investment, Oikocredit, joined by Insitor, invested in Aashiyaan Housing & Development Finance, which aims to help families earning less than 35,000 rupees ($515) per month buy homes. It will use some of the money to apply for a lending license.

YCook’s Janardhan Linga Swahar said working closely with farmers ensures his company has high-quality produce, and helps farmers learn modern techniques and create sustainable farms.

Kolkata-based Aashiyaan plans to focus on semi-urban and rural areas in eastern India, said company founder Shubhankar Sengupta, who noted that affordable housing has grown most in the southern and western parts of India. The country’s affordable housing market has attracted investments from impact investors including Lok Capital and mainstream investors such as KKR owing to a government initiative to ensure universal housing access by 2022.

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