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Samunnati raises Rs. 150 crore from responsAbility Investments, others

Originally appeared in Livemint on January 9, 2018

Samunnati Financial Intermediation and Services Pvt. Ltd, a non-banking financial services company (NBFC) focusing on loans to farmers and entities engaged in agriculture, on Tuesday said it raised Rs150 crore in a round led by responsAbility Investments AG, with participation from existing investors Accel Partners and Elevar Equity.

responsAbility is a Zurich-headquartered social impact investment firm with over $3 billion in assets under management. The latest investment is from its dedicated agriculture fund.

“Agriculture and food is one of the key focus sectors for responsAbility globally. We have always felt that there is a huge gap in the formal financing available to this sector in India. Samunnati is a unique institution addressing this gap through an efficient business model,” Akshay Dua, head of private equity, Asia Pacific-agri and food, said in a statement.

The fresh funds will be used to expand its portfolio of loans, the company said.

Samunnati did not disclose the break-up of funds received from various participants in the series C round. Unitus Capital acted as the sole advisor to the deal.

The latest investment comes about a year after the NBFC raised Rs. 30 crore from Elevar Equity and Accel, where the latter had joined as the new investor. Earlier investments raised by the company total to Rs. 20 crore.

Based in Chennai, Samunnati offers working capital loans to individuals and entities engaged in agriculture production and supply chain. These are farmers, agriculture traders, wholesalers, input manufacturers, cooperative societies, food processors and exporters, said Nitin Chaudhary, head of products and innovation.

“We broadly work with three customer segments: retail segment which has farmers and mainly individual borrowers, then there is a segment which looks at community-based organizations, and the third vertical is agri-based enterprises,” said Chaudhary.

The structure—quantum and tenor—of loans differ considerably: the tenure could range from 15 days to five years, which in most cases is linked to farm cycles, Chaudhary added.

Samunnati was incorporated in 2014 by Anil Kumar SG, a banker with over 20 years of experience, who was most recently the chief executive officer (CEO) at IFMR Rural Channels and Services, an organization that works for financial inclusion in remote areas in India.

Since launch, Samunnati has grown to a team of 150 people. It has partnerships with 12 banks and other NBFCs that lend to Samunnati (which in-tern lends to its customers) and has so far disbursed over Rs500 crore worth of credit.

“Samunnati is now a lender of first choice for many institutions in the agriculture space given our focused approach and product offerings,” said founder and CEO Kumar SG.

“We look forward to leveraging responsAbility’s global development finance experience to further Samunnati’s approach towards making Agri Value Chains operate at a higher equilibrium, thereby providing value to millions of small and marginal farmers and build it as one of the top financial institutions in the country with exclusive focus on agriculture and allied activities,” he added.