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India Gets its ‘First’ Venture Fund Focused on Vegan, Sustainable Startups

Today, animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to global warming and pollution, and even organisations such as World Economic Forum (WEF) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have started stressing on the need to move away from it and towards sustainable options.

Global organisations such as Good Food Institute, Humane Society International, ProVeg International, among others, are working aggressively to promote a new ‘smart’ food system that is not just sustainable and ethical, but also has the potential to eliminate the problem of world hunger, considering that by 2050 we will need resources to feed nearly 10 billion people globally!

Moreover, the spread of COVID-19 that exacerbated the ongoing global economic crisis besides leading to a major loss of lives, has led people to rethink their food habits.

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With a growing consumer interest in animal-free foods and materials, new and existing companies have started making a beeline for catering to this audience. This calls for a flow of greater investment into the sector to catapult it to new heights.

India, which is currently at a nascent stage when it comes to alternative proteins and materials, requires a much-needed boost in funds from investors dedicated to the cause of promoting sustainability. A greater flow of investment in the sector is crucial to equip India to feed its rapidly growing population and eliminate food insecurities.

A first-mover in this direction is Ahimsa VC, which calls itself India’s first venture fund focused on reducing harm to the planet, animals and human health.

The newly launched fund focuses on pre-seed and seed stage Indian companies that are working to replace animal products in the food and materials sectors. The idea behind the firm is to accelerate the growth of startups leveraging technology to build better solutions to industrialized animal agriculture.

Members:

There are five members in the investment committee of Ahimsa VC – Jay Karandikar, Parag Agarwal, Sandeep Sibal, Sethu Vaidyanathan, and Shaleen Shah.

Jay is currently the principal at global alternative protein investor Unovis Asset Management. Prior to joining Unovis, he developed trading systems at a quantitative hedge fund in Connecticut.

Parag, a chartered accountant with over 30 years of corporate experience, is currently CFO of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. He is also a co-founder and trustee in Tap India Foundation, and in Ahimsa Trust.

ALSO READ: Indian Alt-Protein Major GoodDot Secures Fresh Investment, Eyes US and European Markets

Sandeep, who is currently CEO of Fourth Frontier, was earlier Qualcomm’s Country Manager for India and South Asia & VP of Business Development. He has been an angel investor in the alternative food and materials space, and is on the board of GiveIndia – India’s largest donation platform.

Sethu, a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, has invested in several start-ups in India and abroad. He founded the Chennai chapter of the People for Animals, is a trustee at the Ahimsa Trust, a trustee at the Chennai Photo Biennale, and a trustee at the Indian Track Foundation.

Shaleen is an entrepreneur and technologist with decades of experience in fintech and consumer lending. He currently occupies senior roles at several foundations and non-profits such as the Ahimsa Foundation and Million Dollar Vegan.

Backed by advisors like Chris Kerr, Ryan Bethencourt, Stephanie Downs, and Dr. Guhan Jayaraman, Ahimsa VC will connect founders to a global network of expertise.

According to information available publicly, the current portfolio of Ahimsa VC includes Ravali Amba-founded plant based seafood startup Brew51, and upcoming next-gen materials startup Ultraraw, which makes vegan alternatives to leather for the fashion, home goods, and automotive industries.

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