Adarsh Kumar is revitalizing rural agricultural businesses through his venture capital fund: the Livelihood Equity Connect (LEC). By providing access to innovative agricultural techniques and professional development, Adarsh advances these businesses into sustainable and profitable ventures.
As the first of its kind venture capital fund, LEC makes direct equity investments into mid-sized rural agriculture businesses. Adarsh uses these direct investments to catalyze growth in the agricultural sector since access to capital in rural areas continues to be a problem in India. Identifying four areas for improvement: infrastructure, aggregation, logistics, and finance, Adarsh uses existing best practices to create a template for each business which he incentivizes with financial investments. Adarsh champions proven practices, aimed at making agricultural ventures effective.
Using this model, Adarsh has championed investment in five producer groups in the country. Four out of the five are still making profits, and the investments are growing. However, Adarsh confronted the challenge of high training and hand-holding costs, which rendered parts of the model commercially unviable. He overcame this challenge by proposing a partnership with the Government of India and the World Bank to build a model which was part investment, and part grant-driven.
During this time the Government of India was looking to inject new energy into the National Rural Livelihoods Mission which aims to increase household income of rural workers through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services. Recognizing that this scheme would impact thousands of producer groups in the country, Adarsh has formed a partnership in hopes of scaling his model. Adarsh will work with the government and the World Bank to test and refine methods by which the non-commercially viable parts of the model get funded, and the commercial aspects continue to run on investment. Further, by accessing higher and higher levels of government, Adarsh hopes to address issues like the over-regulation of agricultural markets and simplify the process of setting up agri-businesses.
This Profile was updated in September 2014. Read on for the Election Profile.