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India Climate Resilient Agriculture Accelerator

Learn to scale your business and bolster the climate resilience of smallholder farmers



10 Weeks

The Problem

Climate change poses a significant threat to smallholder farmers across the world and undermines the global progress towards poverty alleviation, food security, and sustainable development. In India, there are approximately 120 million smallholder farmers with less than 2 hectares of land but who contribute significantly to the overall food supply. Despite their undeniable importance to Indian agriculture and food systems, a majority of the smallholder farmers are poor, experience food insecurity, and live in highly precarious conditions.

A new set of skills is needed if we are to tackle the imminent threat posed by climate change and build truly scalable, inclusive and sustainable solutions. Our new accelerator program will catalyze an ecosystem of agri enterprises with the grit, character and competence to scale.

Learn How To

  • Refine and develop a profitable and scalable business model
  • Think critically about climate resilience and identify key areas to support smallholder farmers
  • Develop robust strategies to bolster your financial sustainability and impact on farmers
  • Pitch your business to investors and other stakeholders at a final showcase
  • Build networks with agri entrepreneurs and supporters in India and beyond
  • Develop the hard-edged leadership skills necessary to build better, truly inclusive, sustainable solutions

2021 Cohort

Refine Your Business Model

Determine the best next steps to reach financial sustainability.

Accelerate Your Impact

Change more lives, faster, by focusing on activities that work.

Gain Valuable Feedback

Tap into the expertise of peers—and Acumen—to solve problems in real-time.

Join A Lasting Community

Build meaningful relationships with a community of like-minded innovators.

How it Works

The accelerator program will focus specifically on mitigation and adaptation solutions and technologies that help build the climate resilience of smallholder farmers. “Adaptation” and “Mitigation” strategies in agriculture are often overlapping, and should ideally be complementary to each other, as one or the other alone is not sufficient to improve the overall resilience of smallholder farmers and also make agriculture sustainable in the long run. Over 10 weeks, you and your team will learn the essentials of building a business model that can achieve both social and environmental impact and profitability, while connecting with a network of peers and experts focused on regenerative agriculture and climate resilience solutions for smallholder farmers.

The curriculum leverages the experience of Acumen's investment work at the intersection of poverty and climate change and our pioneering leadership practices to build a better world, helping you develop both the competence and character to scale your business. You will learn about Acumen’s Moral Leadership practices to build a better world: from Listening to Voices Unheard to Partnering with Humility and Audacity. These are vital skills for any leader looking to create new realities that better serve the poor and the earth.

You’ll access industry specific case studies, video tutorials and practical readings on all module topics, and receive invaluable support from our Accelerator and Portfolio teams. You’ll complete assignments that are designed to help you think critically about your business, and then join weekly interactive Learning Labs to give and receive feedback from your peers. You’ll also receive individualized support and industry insights from expert advisors and investors with decades of experience in the food and agriculture sectors.

You will work with 60 Decibels, an award-winning impact evaluation firm, to complete a training on the products, services, and offerings that farmers need to be resilient to climate shocks. Finally, you will complete a self-assessment to score your enterprise’s current impact and determine your next steps for bolstering the climate resilience of smallholder farmers.

The program will culminate with a virtual closing session where you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your venture for up to $50k in equity or quasi-equity seed funding from Acumen.

Time Commitment and Course Access

You should expect to spend at least 8 hours per week on the readings and assignments. Most of this work can be done on your own schedule.

One or two participants from the leadership team of your enterprise (“Lead Participants”) will be required to take part in the Learning Labs every week. Up to 10 people from your enterprise may receive access to the curriculum materials.

If we don’t do anything big in the next ten years… our ability to grow food efficiently and the sustainability of the whole food ecosystem will become a big question mark.
Hemendra Mathur, Acumen Advisor
We need leaders that are willing to do the long, hard work of reimagining and redesigning our systems to put our shared humanity and the sustainability of the earth at the center.
Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen CEO
To really make a difference in this sector, especially when we’re picking up such difficult and complex issues like climate resilience, collaboration and partnerships are key.
Arindom Datta, Sustainability at Rabobank

What's Included

  • Five Learning Labs with peers
  • Two one-on-one coaching consultations with Acumen’s team
  • A workshop and self-assessment on strategies for increasing farmers’ resilience to climate shocks
  • Individualized support from expert mentors on strategic business aspects and climate resilience
  • Video tutorials on customer discovery, sales and marketing, financial modeling, and pitching 
  • Case studies from social enterprises that have successfully scaled
  • Eligibility to compete for up to $50k per startup in seed funding (equity/quasi-equity) from Acumen



Program Mentors

Expert advisors and investors with decades of experience in the food and agriculture sectors are providing individualized support and industry insights to the cohort. Mentors include

Shalini Chhabra

3i Partners
Managing Partner

Kaushik Kappagantulu

Co-Founder & CEO

Emmanuel Murray

Caspian Impact Investment Adviser
Senior Advisor

Nagaraja Prakasam

Agri-enterprise Investor and Board Member


Sandeep Roy Choudhury

VNV advisory services

Arindom Datta

Executive Director, Rural & Development Banking

Hemendra Mathur

Bharat Innovation Fund, ThinkAg, FICCI, Innoterra
Venture Partner

Harry Davies

Manager, Program Related Investments

Karan Mehta

Peak Sustainability Ventures


Module 1

Visions of Scale

  • Understand models for how impactful enterprises can scale
  • Develop a business model canvas that isolates key hypotheses for how your business model currently comes together
  • Learn about moral imagination and adaptive leadership

Module 2

Customer Insights

  • Clearly define your core customer and value proposition
  • Design customer experiments to test your most critical hypothesis

Module 3

Measuring and Increasing Climate Resilience

  • Understand the products, services, and offerings that help farmers become resilient to climate shocks and challenges
  • Complete a self-assessment to determine the next steps for bolstering the climate resilience of the farmers you serve

Module 4

Aligning a Pricing, Sales and Marketing Strategy to Your Value Propositions

  • Build a value proposition canvas using data from customer interviews and experiments
  • Begin to develop pricing models that are aligned with your value proposition

Module 5

Financial Model

  • Identify your major revenue assumptions and cost assumptions
  • Define major financial milestones for the next two years

Module 6

Pitching the Strategic Story of Your Business

  • Articulate a vision for scaling your enterprise that pulls together key metrics associated with your operational model, financial model, and customer insights
  • Practice pitching your business to stakeholders

Applications Through

June 16


August 10

Final Pitch

October 12

Who is Qualified to Apply?

This accelerator is open to agri entrepreneurs who:

  • Run an enterprise (for-profit) based in India that exists to build the climate resilience of smallholder farmers (directly or indirectly) 
  • Specifically focused on climate change solutions across the following themes:
    • Regenerative agriculture and resource conservation (e.g. eco-friendly inputs, natural resource management practices that seek to improve soil health, water management and conservation solutions, regenerative farming techniques that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/ or put more carbon back into the soil)
    • Supply chain innovations and wastage reduction (e.g. on-farm post harvest management and processing solutions, modular storage facilities including cold stores, distribution and logistics optimization solutions)
    • Access to markets and finance, in order to strengthen the support ecosystem for smallholder farmers (e.g. aggregator models providing alternative market access to farmers, affordable agri credit and other financial products such as savings products and climate insurance, customized for smallholder farmers)
  • Have a demonstrated track record of at least 12-18 months and some market traction (evidence of customer demand and revenue generation)
  • Have a team equivalent to three or more full-time staff


How to Qualify?


How will participants be selected?

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. If you are selected for an interview, a member of the Acumen team will reach out to schedule a 30-minute video call with you on the Zoom platform.

What stage does my enterprise have to be in order to participate?

This program is designed for enterprises with demonstrated market traction and a team equivalent to at least three full-time staff members.

What types of business models will be considered?

We are looking for models that focus on regenerative agriculture and resource conservation; supply chain innovations and wastage reduction; and access to markets and finance for smallholder farmers.

Do I need to be from India to apply?

You need to be an agri entrepreneur running a business with primary operations in India and catering to the Indian market. You do not need to be an Indian citizen in order to apply.

When and Where?


When will the sessions be held?

Most of the assignments can be completed online at your own pace before the submission date every week. Your team’s Lead Participants will be expected to participate live during the weekly 2-hour Learning Labs. The calls with Acumen and expert mentors can be scheduled at times that are mutually convenient for you and your advisor.

Where will the sessions be held?

This is an online program. The weekly Learning Labs will be hosted virtually on the Zoom platform. You should have a stable internet connection and the ability to participate in video calls.

What are the program dates?

The program runs from July 13 to September 14, 2021.

Learn more about the program

Rabo Foundation is a knowledge partner on the Climate Resilient Agriculture Accelerator

About Acumen Academy

Acumen Academy is the world’s school for social change. Our mission is to unleash a new generation of social innovators and leaders with the character and competence to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable world. Blending the best of online and offline learning, we offer anyone, anywhere access to the practical tools, practices, resources and supportive community they need to achieve positive social change. The Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of social innovators and leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves easy.

Learn more at www.acumenacademy.org.