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.
Determine the best next steps to reach financial sustainability.
Change more lives, faster, by focusing on activities that work.
Tap into the expertise of peers—and Acumen—to solve problems in real-time.
Build meaningful relationships with a community of like-minded innovators.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Co-Founder & CEO
Caspian Impact Investment Adviser
Agri-enterprise Investor and Board Member
VNV advisory services
Executive Director, Rural & Development Banking
Bharat Innovation Fund, ThinkAg, FICCI, Innoterra
Manager, Program Related Investments
Peak Sustainability Ventures
This accelerator is open to agri entrepreneurs who:
How to Qualify?
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.
This program is designed for enterprises with demonstrated market traction and a team equivalent to at least three full-time staff members.
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.
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?
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.
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.
The program runs from July 13 to September 14, 2021.
Rabobank Foundation is a knowledge partner on the Climate Resilient Agriculture Accelerator