Exclusive: Aavishkaar in talks to invest about $2m in Indonesian food startup

Aavishkaar team
Aavishkaar partner EN Venkat (left) and senior investment manager Adi Sudewa

Mumbai-based impact investor Aavishkaar is in “advanced discussions” with an Indonesian food startup over a possible investment worth around $2 million, a company official told DEALSTREETASIA. The deal is expected to close soon.

“We normally invest between $1 million and $4 million. This one is about $2 million depending on the company’s needs,” Adi Sudewa, senior investment manager at Aavishkaar for Indonesia, said on the sidelines of a media gathering in Jakarta. He declined to reveal further details.

Aavishkaar has invested in three Indonesian companies since it entered the country in 2015, including fish marketplace firm Bali Seafood and an unnamed tapioca producer.

The firm’s last investment in Indonesia was in March when it led a Series A round in handcraft e-commerce platform Qlapa. It was joined by the startup’s existing backer Kapan Lagi Networks (KLN).

Last year, Aavishkaar Venture Management CEO and managing director Vineet Rai had told this portal that the firm was hoping to invest in 10-15 Indonesian companies within the next few years while looking to raise up to $150 million for the region.

“We are looking at various sectors such as education, health, energy, agriculture, poultry, and dairy. Indonesian entrepreneurs have ideas that we have not yet encountered in India, and some of them are even developing solutions for global problems,” Rai had said.

“Of course we may not be able to invest everything in Indonesia. But we are expecting to realise at least half of that number,” he added.

Indonesia: Challenges and Opportunities

Sudewa said investing in Indonesia has its own share of challenges, especially as an impact investor who only participates in first and second-rounds.

“Aavishkaar pursues both digital and non-digital opportunities, so not all of our leads are based in Jakarta. Those who are from outside Jakarta might not fully understand the concepts of equity funding, so that’s one challenge,” he said.

Aavishkaar will organise the third Jakarta edition of its Sankalp Forum, a multi-stakeholder platform for social entrepreneurship and impact investing, on September 19-20. As many as 70 startups across Southeast Asia have applied for this year’s Sankalp award given to innovative startups with scalable ideas. In 2016, organic vegetable producer Kecipir was among three startups from SEA that received the award. In 2015, Indonesian waste management firm Bintang Sejahtera was the winner.

EN Venkat, partner at Aavishkaar, said: “During 2016, Indonesia had about 450 social enterprises and an even wider number of people who wish to start their own social business. Indonesians have shown an interest in building a business as well as making a difference. As the number of social enterprise is growing, impact investors’ presence is needed to boost their activities. We believe with the right action, funding and network provision, we will be able to develop the role of social enterprises in Indonesia.”

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