Upaya Announces Investment in Krishi Star

Investment Will Allow Krishi to Expand Management Capacity,

Marketing Efforts with a Goal to Improve the Lives of 10,000 Farmers


A consortium of four co-investors led by Upaya Social Ventures and Artha Venture Challenge – with 1to4 Foundation and a Mumbai based angel investor as the other two co-investors - has completed an investment in Krishi Star, a Mumbai-based company dedicated to increasing and stabilizing farmer incomes by building a food brand that focuses on value-added processing and market linkages.

Krishi’s vision is to end poverty for small farmers by establishing a brand that represents greater farmer ownership in the value chain and high quality products for consumers. Founded by Bryan Lee in 2014, the company currently works with small farmers and farmer owned food processing units in Maharashtra and Gujarat. It has so far developed a product portfolio including tomato puree, whole-peeled tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes while more products are in the pipeline. The company is selling its products in Mumbai and Pune to hotels, restaurants, and catering groups. By coordinating farmer-owned units under a unified brand, Krishi aims to grow per farmer income by 200%.

“The scale to which we can grow our social impact is directly linked to the amount of market-demand that can be generated for our line of products. This investment will allow us to expand our marketing and sales capabilities and maintain the required inventory buffer to introduce and scale new products. It comes at a crucial time for us as we are transitioning our operations from niche and local to more widespread geographies and markets,” said Bryan Lee, co-founder of Krishi Star.

This equity investment is an exciting opportunity for Upaya to help enable Indian farmers to earn more of the end price of their crops. On average, farmers in this region earn only 25% of the end price for their produce – significantly less than the 40-50% common in other parts of the world.

“Half of the Indian population is involved in some way in agriculture. This is an important sector for Upaya to be part of. We see great potential in the work Bryan and his team are doing to improve the lives of Indian farmers and their families,” said Kate Cochran, Upaya CEO. “We were particularly pleased to make a co-investment with like-minded colleagues like Artha Venture Challenge and 1to4 Foundation,” added Kate.

“We have a particular interest in supporting the work of producers through the development of agri-processing, and we have been delighted to see that Krishi Star has demonstrated great resilience and commitment to serving its core communities,” said Audrey Selian, Director of Artha Initiative, under which the Artha Venture Challenge (AVC) has been launched.

Menterra Impact Investment Fund, which collaborates with AVC to invest in and incubate social enterprises in India, will support Krishi with strategic guidance to grow the business. “We are optimistic about Krishi Star’s potential to scale and are looking forward to working with the Krishi team to build their business and its social impact,” said AB Chakravarthy, Senior Investment Manager, Menterra.

This investment is the tenth equity investment made by Upaya in India since 2011. All of Upaya’s investments are driven by the enterprises’ potential to create or improve jobs for the poorest of the poor. Krishi Star is expected to improve the livelihoods of 10,000 farmers by 2019-20.