Rethinking Agri-Business Investments Through the Pandemic: Support panel
The Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness programme (CASA) programme is hosting “Rethinking Agri-Business Investments Through the Pandemic”, a series of virtual convenings unpacking the response to COVID-19 for investors and SMEs in emerging markets.
The series of virtual convenings is designed for investors, investment support stakeholders and commentators in the agribusiness space to share thinking and efforts to consolidate, innovate and adapt in light of the global pandemic. The virtual events are not expected to provide definitive answers but instead to provide a platform for structured sharing and reflection, in response to the issues exercising the investor community and agribusiness sector.
The e-conference series is designed to:
- Identify the needs of SMEs if they are to remain investable options
- Showcase tools and approaches to supporting agribusiness during the pandemic developed by various stakeholders and being considered by impact investors in agri-business;
- Identify evidence gaps and information needs for the CASA programme to support investors through and after the pandemic
- Map as far as possible investment opportunities emerging from disruptive innovation
How do we support agribusinesses through the crisis and into the future? Drawing on lessons from other global crises, throughout the panel discussion we will explore practical ways that impact investors and TA practitioners can assist portfolio companies to pivot their business models to respond to the immediate challenges, as well as long term changes during the recovery period. The panel will discuss how agribusinesses can take action to secure their supply chains and cash flows, for example, discussing possible operational changes. Looking forward, we will discuss possible strategies and tools to reconfigure business models to respond to the post-crisis economic fallout in the medium and long term.
Niraj H. Shah
Niraj H. Shah is the Program Manager of the Private Sector Window (PrSW) of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a US$390 million multi-donor trust fund supported by the Governments of Australia, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, UK and USA, and managed by IFC as a Blended Finance program. The PrSW co-invests alongside IFC, directly or indirectly, in agribusiness and agrifinance projects impacting smallholders in the agriculture value chain. As of December 2019, the GAFSP PrSW had supported 75 investment projects in 27 countries for an investment amount of US$362 million, and 78 advisory projects in 32 countries for US$32 million. Niraj is also the IFC global lead for Blended Finance in the Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services sectors, which includes the GAFSP PrSW.
Between 2007 and 2013, Niraj was the IFC Sector Lead for Agribusiness and TRP (Tourism, Retail and Property) for South Asia, based in India and later for the Caribbean, based in the Dominican Republic. Niraj joined IFC from Edelweiss Capital, a full-service Indian investment bank, where he was the Head of Mergers and Acquisitions. Prior to that, he worked at Ernst & Young, Lazard India and ICICI Bank. Over the past 25 years, Niraj has worked in different areas including blended finance, project finance, management consulting, distressed debt, private equity and investment banking. His industry experience spans diverse sectors including agribusiness, agrifinance, hospitality, real estate, media & telecom and manufacturing. He is a Cost Accountant and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.
Sarah Marchand is a business development specialist with over 15 years of experience spanning both the private and development sectors. After joining CDC Group in 2016, Sarah set up CDC Plus, a technical assistance and support facility, which aims to make a lasting difference to the lives of under-served groups by increasing economic opportunity, improving standards of living and creating a more sustainable environment. Funded by DFID, the facility utilises CDC Group’s experience as an investor in emerging markets through identifying and creating opportunities that are beyond the scope of returnable capital. Prior to joining CDC Group, Sarah served as a strategy consultant at Bain & Company in the United Kingdom and South Africa, and as the Director of Regional Programmes, Southern Africa at TechnoServe. Sarah has previously lived in India, South Africa, Swaziland, France and Portugal, and is the proud mother of two wonderful children.
Chris Mitchell is a partner in Bain and Company’s Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility and Economic Development practices, based in Nairobi.
Chris has worked closely with private and public sector clients on issues related to stakeholder engagement and building inclusive markets, particularly in agriculture and consumer products. He co-authored a report with Acumen titled Growing Prosperity: Developing Repeatable Models® to Scale the Adoption of Agricultural Innovations focused on smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In addition, he advises clients across a range of industries, including telecommunications, media and technology (TMT), consumer goods, industrials, oil and gas, financial services and private equity.
Prior to joining Bain, Chris worked in India with Intellecap, a firm focused on helping social enterprises raise growth capital.
He earned an MBA from MIT Sloan, an MPhil in international relations from Cambridge University and a BA in history from Tufts University.
Caroline Bressan is the Managing Director of Open Road Alliance, which she joined in 2015. At Open Road she manages the Open Road Impact Fund, a portfolio of short-term bridge loans solving for unexpected cash crunches in the social sector. She is passionate about making the social sector work more efficiently, to make sure that no impact is, “left on the table.” Prior to Open Road, Caroline was an Investment Principal at Dalberg Capital. There she worked on building a pipeline of investment opportunities in energy and agriculture, as well as designing innovative financing mechanisms. Previously, Caroline was an Investment Officer at Calvert Impact Capital where she managed the Latin America portfolio. Caroline received her MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Michigan.
Julian Peach is a partnerships, strategy and agricultural market systems expert with almost thirty years of management and technical experience working to help businesses to grow together with smallholder supply and distribution chains. He has experience with most agricultural input and output and service markets. He has particular skills in facilitating and brokering the way for businesses to achieve transformative, sustainable success at scale. His single motivation is to help rural people to improve their lives.
Mark Kahn is Managing Partner and co-founder of Omnivore is a venture capital firm, based in India, which funds entrepreneurs building the future of agriculture and food systems. Omnivore pioneered agritech investing in India, backing over 20 startups since 2011. Every day, Omnivore portfolio companies drive agricultural prosperity and transform food systems across India, making farming more profitable, resilient, and sustainable.
Previously, Mark was the Executive Vice President (Strategy & Business Development) at Godrej Agrovet, one of India’s foremost diversified agribusiness companies. At Godrej Agrovet, Mark was responsible for corporate strategy, M&A, R&D, and new business incubation. Earlier in his career, Mark worked for Syngenta and PFM. He earned a BA (Honors) from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. Mark is a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Council on Agriculture, a member of the Governing Council of the Maharashtra State Innovation Society, and a member of EMPEA’s Venture Capital Council.
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