Chennai-Based WayCool Receives Grant Worth $114K From Dutch Development Bank FMO

The grant will be utilized to disburse double PPE kits and soil testing kits to 15,000 farmers across five states in India

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Chennai-based WayCool Foods, an agritech startup on Thursday received a grant of $114,000 from Dutch entrepreneurial bank FMO for procurement and distribution of dual-purpose personal protective equipment (PPE) and enablement of soil testing to farmers. This grant came months after the agritech startup received $5.5 million from IndusInd Bank.

WayCool Foods
Karthik Jayaraman, co-Founder and CEO, WayCool Foods

The distribution is being carried out under WayCool's program - Outgrow Program, where 15,000 smallholding farmers across five states (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Maharashtra) in India will be benefited. The dual-purpose PPE kits chosen for the disbursement will protect each farmers during the pandemic and will also cover them during agricultural operations. On the other hand, the soil testing initiative will help farmers to get their soil's health measured without travelling.

The startup considers "Outgrow' as its flagship program which helps farmers throughout their cultivation cycle and guaranteeing them of 270 days of steady income by leveraging a host of emerging technologies.

Commenting on the fresh grants, Sendhil Kumar Natarajan, head-agri initiatives, WayCool Foods, said, "Farmers are essential service providers as they feed the nation. They are also very vulnerable during disruptive events such as the ongoing pandemic. Our measures have focussed on enabling the farmers earn their livelihood while reducing the risks they face. The FMO grant will help us in protecting a significantly larger number of farmers and we thank FMO for their timely support."

Speaking about the initiative, Jaap Reinking, director, private equity, FMO said, "We are proud to offer additional support during this period. India has experienced one of the world's strictest lockdowns. These measures left little recourse for the country's millions of farmers, particularly those in the poorest provinces, who were unable to get access to essentials and protective equipment. The initiative's goal is to find affordable and reliable sources of PPE and ensure these are allocated where they are needed most. Additionally, this grant will be used to procure Soil Testing kits for farmers, which will ultimately improve their income and reduce wastage."

Other Farmer Centric Initiatives

The company over the years have been engaging in various ways to help farmers. The agritech startup has recently ran a crowdfunding campaign for PPE kits through Milaap. The startup has also driven the awareness campaign on the efforts put by farmers and truckers.

Founded in 2015 by Karthik Jayaraman and Sanjay Dasari, WayCool procures, processes, and distributes a range of food products. The startup everyday moves over 250 tonnes of food to 11,000 clients across South India. Food products distributed by the startup includes fresh produce, staples, and dairy products.

The company operates a soil-to-sale model while working with 40,000 farmers in more than 50 regions across India.

The 5-year-old startup has to date raised three rounds of funding from Lightbox, Lightstone, Northern Arc Capital, and others. It raised $32 million funding in Series C round led by Lightbox.

Govt Throws Life Support To Agriculture Sector

The pandemic followed by stringent lockdown have impacted almost every livelihood in the world. However, farmers who rely on their produce and weather suffered the most due to restricted movement and unpredictable weather. In a bid to throw revive the agriculture sector of the country, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on earlier this month announced an Agriculture Infrastructure Fund worth INR 1 lakh crore.

This fund is aimed to to give a leg up to post-harvest management and marketing of agricultural produce. During the launch, PM Modi said the scheme will provide better warehousing and cold storage facilities for farmers. He said the scheme will provide new jobs as food processing and post-harvest facilities are set up in rural areas.

The scheme will aid startups to scale up their operations and help India to mark its presence in organic and fortified food. The fund was launched with INR 1,128 crore of new loans being disbursed to more than 2,200 cooperative societies.

Also Read: Agritech Players Look At This Pandemic As An Opportunity To Grow and Collaborate