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SBI Foundation Partners with Villgro to Launch ‘Innovators for Bharat' Initiative to Scale Agri-Startups Sustainably

The 'Innovators for Bharat: Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods' initiative comes under the flagship program of the SBI Foundation, SBI LEAP (Livelihood and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program) to support high-impact incubators providing incubation/acceleration to startups working to address pressing development challenges in the country.

Parvathy Pillai
'Innovators for Bharat' is a flagship program of the SBI Foundation to support high-impact incubators providing incubation to startups (Picture Courtesy: Freepik)
'Innovators for Bharat' is a flagship program of the SBI Foundation to support high-impact incubators providing incubation to startups (Picture Courtesy: Freepik)

SBI Foundation has partnered with India’s leading social enterprise incubator, Villgro to launch the ‘Innovators for Bharat: Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods’ program.

The initiative comes under the flagship program of the SBI Foundation, SBI LEAP (Livelihood and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program) to support high-impact incubators providing incubation/acceleration to startups working to address pressing development challenges in the country. It will further support up to 15 high-potential startups, creating impact on agricultural livelihoods, reducing agriculture’s climate footprint, and enhancing the resilience of smallholder farmers to climate change.

Innovators for Bharat: Climate Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods

The program is open for startups in the early Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage or more mature enterprises in the growth stage. The program also encourages women entrepreneurs to apply.

Agritech startups, Agri-fintech startups, and Climate Tech Startups with a primary focus on themes such as climate resilient agriculture, reducing post-harvest losses, waste to value, and carbon Impact and measurement are invited to submit their applications for the program. 

The initiative is determined to commit to the following activities:

  • The program will accelerate agriculture startups to scale sustainably by providing them with equity seed funding, grant capital, and incubation support

  • The customized incubation support includes:

    • Strategic mentoring for business scale-up

    • Opportunities for field pilots

    • Access to rural distribution networks

    • Guidance on the scientific quantification

    • Evaluation of climate impact

    • Technical assistance for building carbon projects

  • The initiative will also focus on guiding startups to build financially stable business models and access debt financing to help them grow. In addition to this, this program will act as a platform to raise awareness about startup innovations through different channels

  • Through this high-engagement program, Villgro and SBI Foundation will deploy financial support of Rs 3.25 Crore, through a combination of grant and equity

  • SBI Foundation will be providing financial support to the selected startups as well as provide access to its network of banking experts for mentorship, Civil Society Organizations, and other key Stakeholders

  • Villgro will play a pivotal role in this initiative by

    • Designing the implementation of the program

    • Selecting startups through rigorous evaluation

    • Due diligence

    • Providing ongoing incubation support

    • Championing startup advocacy

"SBI Foundation is wholly devoted to empowering startups and cultivating an innovative culture within the agricultural sector. Our dedication extends to driving substantial environmental transformations, with particular emphasis on waste recycling/upcycling, CO2 emissions reduction and removal, and the sustainable management of land and resources. With this program, we aim to improve the lives of 10,000 people in two years, including creating jobs for many of them," said Sanjay Prakash, Managing Director, SBI Foundation.

“The ‘Innovators for Bharat’ program is a fantastic opportunity to harness innovation to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers while making agriculture more environmentally sustainable,” said Maithili Rege, Associate Lead, Agriculture, Villgro.

He further added, “The program stands out by offering strong go-to-market support to enterprises, enhancing startups' readiness for debt financing, and providing dedicated advocacy for startup success.”

The selection of the startups for the program will be based on their innovative solutions, the current stage of the enterprise, its business viability, team, and potential to create impact at scale. The application window will remain open until October 11, 2023 – villgro.org/current-programs/#cause-20 

The startup selection process is set to commence in October 2023, with the announcement of selected startups scheduled for November 2023. The Incubation Period is planned to run from February 2024 to July 2025.

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