Twenty-five enterprises from Assam were selected for the first Cohort of the Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab out of more than 200 applications from across the state.
The Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab, which was announced in June this year, will now help these 25 agribusinesses build capacity and in adopting new technology to better their core operations. Among these 25 enterprises, AAGL will work with eight women-led organizations who were selected after tough rounds of assessment.
Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART) initiated the Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab (AAGL), implemented by the CIIE.CO, a premiere incubator of IIM Ahmedabad, in partnership with Innovative Change Collaborative Services Pvt Ltd (ICCSPL).
The first Cohort of 25 enterprises has been selected for handholding and scaling by providing technical assistance and connecting the enterprises to relevant sources of finance.
“202 agri and allied enterprises from 23 districts of Assam submitted their applications to the AAGL programme. The applications went through intensive assessment consisting of three rounds and a final due diligence. Through the two rounds of internal and external evaluations, 56 enterprises were shortlisted for the final presentations. Each of the shortlisted enterprise pitched their businesses to a six-member jury panel, consisting of industry experts, renowned business consultants, investors, mentors and academicians from the Agri domain and members from CIIE.CO management team,” a statement from the lab said.
Members from institutions and organizations like IRMA, NIFTEM, NEDFi, Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF), Caspian and many others represented the jury panel.
On completion of the pitch round, 25 enterprises which includes eight women-led enterprises, were selected by the panel to form the 1st Cohort of the Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab.
Over a period of four years, the programme aims to support 100 enterprises in the agri and allied sectors including participation of 30% women-led businesses. The programme focuses on building capacity for selected enterprises, support in improving product standards, developing new products and services, introducing and adopting new technology in production and core operations and assisting them to mobilize finance for business.
The AAGL initiative was officially launched on June 30. CIIE.CO initiated virtual road shows and webinars in all the major districts of Assam, to look out for eligible agri-enterprises, provide information and popularize the program and invite applications from eligible enterprises.
Vinod Seshan, state project director at ARIAS Society said: “Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab programme is designed to not only develop the urban ecosystem but also reach out to the grassroots/rural entrepreneurs of Assam. This initiative will bring into focus those enterprises which have a rich traditional knowledge along with a passion to do something new and innovative.”
The selected Cohort of enterprises represents a diversification of sectors in agriculture and allied industry. The programme is mandated to support a plethora of enterprises in areas as diverse as, farm intelligence and farm product aggregation, biotechnology, specialised farming, handloom and handicraft, feed production, food processing, fishery value chain.
Apart from the core sectors of Agri and allied, the programme has also selected entrepreneurs in handloom especially in the silk value chain (Eri and Muga), since a lot of support is required in the sector to solve the challenges of supply chain and scale.
Chintan Bakshi, partner at CIIE.CO added: “The enterprises shortlisted for the programme are working towards strengthening the Agri and Allied sector in Assam and supporting them to scale would mean addressing some of the key demand-supply gaps in the state.”
In the coming months the programme team would work individually with each of these entrepreneurs to support them in solving core challenges of their business and help them scale their business through technical assistance and connect them to relevant sources of finance.