Agriculture is a source of livelihood for approximately 65% of Indian population and a key driver for economic growth. However, 70% of the 90 million households who rely on agriculture for a living in India spend more money than they earn each month.

Upaya's 2018 accelerator program is focusing on the agribusiness industry in India. The cohort includes 11 entrepreneurs who are working to scale their early-stage job-creating companies. The goal of our program is to identify and support businesses who are building livelihoods for the extreme poor, each with a vision of improving the lives of at least 1,000 people within three years. 

Meet the 2018 Cohort

On May 14 Upaya announced the companies participating in the 2018 agribusiness cohort. 

Cohort 2 Map with Gender.png
  1. FibSol An ag-tech company aimed at promoting and redefining farming in a more organic and eco-friendly way by using innovative bio-fertilizers.

  2. Aicya Organics A seed to fork company selling organic products grown and processed by 1200 small and marginal farmers to urban families.

  3. ONganic An organic social enterprise bringing profitability for small-holder farmers through introduction of organic cultivation of high premium products and developing a seed to shelf value chain.

  4. Rural Roots A food processing enterprise creating large-scale employment for women below the poverty line in and around Deoria with a focus on food products.

  5. Happy Roots A national award-winning company that creates delicious high-nutrition snacks in partnership with small farmers and rural women.

  6. Gramshree A company working with tribal families to increase the value of their produce by intervening in developing value chains and marketing.

  7. Go Desi An Indian packaged confectionery brand inspired by regional flavors and formats sourced, packed and branded at the farm gate.

  8. Laymen Agro A dairy company bringing village-fresh products to urban kitchens by ensuring the lion's share of the consumer's price goes back to the rural economy.

  9. ZooFresh An enterprise leveraging innovative post harvest technologies and retailing platforms to eliminate waste, enhance consumer health & delight, and increase farmer incomes.

  10. Taank Brothers An enterprise focused on breeding indigenous chickens with the involvement of the local tribal community, providing self-sustainable employment and livelihood opportunities.

  11. Yasasree Viroha A company creating shared value from small fruit waste to create alternative livelihoods for small farmers and women workers.




Your enterprise must be legally incorporated as a for-profit business in India.


You must have an early-stage business, less than 5 years old, that has created some revenue-generating customers.


You haven't received any institutional funding, but are looking to do so within 6-8 months. 



Your work creates jobs in the agri-space for the poor, or significantly improves income levels for small scale farmers.


You are an early-stage enterprise working within the agriculture universe in India, impacting small scale farmers or the poorest of the poor. 



Program benefits

  • Access to Upaya funding (up to $50,000 equity investment in each company). Upaya selects 1-3 enterprises for investment from each cohort.
  • Additional access to investors through pitch and networking opportunity to bring on as co-investors.
  • 4-month long program, involves three class room workshops focussing on helping companies improve their business model in three functions – Finance, Marketing & Sales and Organizational Development
  • Hand-on support (Consulting Projects) where Upaya team/ Mentors or Experts work with the companies on mutually identified gap areas in the business that need to be addressed.
  • Additionally, support in helping companies refine their business plan, pitch deck and financial model.
  • Provide access to network of experts, investors and mentors.

The cost for travel and logistics for the program will be covered by Upaya Social Ventures.

program timeline


Upaya will select the final 10-12 entrepreneurs by the second week of May, 2018. The selection process is as follows:

  1. First Round of Application – 26th February 2018 to 26th March 2018.
  2. Second Round of Application – 30th March 2018 to 12th April 2018. 
  3. Announcement of selected enterprises for the Accelerator cohort – 11th May 2018.


  • First Workshop: 30th May 2018 – 1st June 2018
  • Second Workshop: 25th – 27th July 2018
  • Third Workshop: 26th – 28th September 2018

The Upaya team plans to visit each of the selected enterprises to work with the enterprises in identifying key challenges and gaps in the business and providing technical assistance in addressing the mutually identified challenges.

The investment decision will be announced at the end of the third workshop.


Here's how you can get involved with Upaya!



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Join our Dignity Circle with a $500 gift to receive exclusive accelerator updates and invitations.


We are always seeking industry experts and professionals to work closely with our accelerator participants.



Amit Antony Alex, Upaya India Country Director
Nathan Byrd, Upaya Board and most recently Head of Global Programs at Opportunity International
Kate Cochran, Upaya CEO
Patricia Devereux, Upaya Board Chair
Sharmila Rathinam, Upaya Board Vice Chair and Real Estate Developer
Sachi Shenoy, Upaya Chief Impact Officer and Co-Founder
Gwen Straley, Executive Director, 3rd Creek Foundation
Caroline Vance, Director, Deutsche AM Global Social Finance Group


2018 Investment Committee

Patricia Devereux, Upaya Board Chair
Abhilash Mudaliar, Research Director at the Global Impact Investing Network
Brooke Randall, Co-Founder and Principal at Agriculture Capital
Sharmila Rathinam, Upaya Board Vice Chair and Real Estate Developer
Gwen Straley, Executive Director, 3rd Creek Foundation
Caroline Vance, Director, Deutsche AM Global Social Finance Group
Upaya Leadership Team: Kate Cochran, Amit Antony Alex and Sachi Shenoy