WayCool secures $114,000 from FMO to help Indian farmers social distance

WayCool secures $114,000 from FMO to help Indian farmers social distance
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21 Aug, 2020

WayCool Foods & Products, a startup that operates a technology-enabled supply chain for food and agricultural produce, on Thursday said that it has secured a grant of $114,000 from Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO.

The grant’s purpose is to help the Chennai based company procure and distribute dual-purpose personal protective equipment (PPE) and on-site soil testing kits to farmers, the statement added.

The distribution, WayCool said, is being carried out under its flagship programme for farmers called Outgrow. It said it aims to reach 15,000 smallholding farmers across five Indian states through the initiative.

While the dual-purpose PPE kits will help protect farmers, prevent the novel coronavirus infection and shield them from agricultural operations such as pesticide spraying, in-situ soil testing kits will enable them to get soil health measured without having to travel, thus facilitating effective soil management while maintaining social distancing.

Outgrow, WayCool said, engages with farmers through their entire cultivation cycle, to guarantee farmers 270 days of steady income by leveraging a host of emerging technologies. It has so far run a crowdfunding campaign for the PPE kits, launched an awareness campaign showcasing the efforts of the farmer and trucker, which it calls the invisible hands in the agri supply chain.

“Farmers are essential service providers as they feed the nation. They are also very vulnerable during disruptive events such as the ongoing pandemic... The FMO grant will help us in protecting a significantly larger number of farmers and we thank FMO for their timely support,” Sendhil Kumar Natarajan, head of agri initiatives at WayCool Foods said.

The grant follows WayCool’s loan raise of $5.5 million in June. It has previously raised three rounds of funding from Lightbox, LGT Lightstone Aspada, FMO, Caspian Impact Investment, and Northern Arc Capital.

Founded by Sanjay Dasari and Karthik Jayaraman in 2015, the company procures, processes, and distributes a range of food products including fresh produce, staples, and dairy products, moving over 250 tonnes of food daily to 11,000 clients across South India. It operates a soil-to-sale model, with a base of 40,000 farmers in over 50 regions across India. 

FMO has backed other Indian companies, such as Bengaluru-based fintech firm Innoviti Payment Solutions, where it participated in a Series C funding round in June, and Gurugram based agritech startup DeHaat, where it was part of a $12 million Series A funding round in April. The development bank in July said it was considering a $10 million investment in Mumbai-based early stage fintech startup NeoGrowth Credit.