Assam Agribusiness and Rural Transformation Project (APART) have initiated the Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab (AAGL), implemented by the CIIE.CO, a premiere incubator of IIM Ahmedabad in partnership with Innovative Change Collaborative Services Pvt Ltd (ICCSPL). 

The program aims to support 100 enterprises, in 4 years duration in the agri and allied sectors including participation of 30% women-led businesses. The program focuses on building capacity for selected enterprises, support in improving product standards, developing new products and services, introducing and adopting new technology in production and core operations and assisting them to mobilize finance for business. 

The AAGL initiative was officially launched on June 30, 2021. CIIE.CO initiated virtual road shows and webinars in all the major districts of Assam, to look out for eligible agri-enterprises, provide information and popularize the program and invite applications from eligible enterprises.  

As an outcome of the outreach through road shows and social media campaigns, 202 agri and allied enterprises from 23 districts of Assam submitted their applications to the AAGL programme. The applications went through intensive assessment consisting of three rounds and a final due diligence.

Through the two rounds of internal and external evaluations, 56 enterprises were shortlisted for the final presentations. Each of the shortlisted enterprise pitched their businesses to a six member jury panel, consisting of industry experts, renowned business consultants, investors, mentors and academicians from the Agri domain and members from CIIE.CO management team.

Members from institutions and organizations like IRMA, NIFTEM, NEDFi, Bharat Innovation Fund (BIF), Caspian and many others represented the jury panel. On completion of the pitch round, 25 enterprises (including 8 women led enterprises) were selected by the panel to form the 1st Cohort of the Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab.

The 1st cohort of 25 enterprises, with 30% representation from women-led enterprises, has been selected for handholding and scaling by providing technical assistance and connecting the enterprises to relevant sources of finance.  

Vinod Seshan, IAS, State Project Director, ARIAS Society, expressed that “Assam Agribusiness Growth Lab programme is designed to not only develop the urban ecosystem but also reach out to the grassroots/rural entrepreneurs of Assam. He also added that this initiative will bring into focus those enterprises which have a rich traditional knowledge along with a passion to do something new and innovative.”

The selected Cohort of enterprises represents a diversification of sectors in agriculture and allied industry. The programme is mandated to support a plethora of enterprises in areas as diverse as, farm intelligence and farm product aggregation, biotechnology, specialised farming, handloom and handicraft, feed production, food processing, fishery value chain.

Apart from the core sectors of Agri and allied, the program has also selected entrepreneurs in handloom especially in the silk value chain (Eri and Muga), since a lot of support is required in the sector to solve the challenges of supply chain and scale. 

Chintan Bakshi, Partner, CIIE.CO added, “The enterprises shortlisted for the program are working towards strengthening the Agri and Allied sector in Assam and supporting them to scale would mean addressing some of the key demand-supply gaps in the state.” 

In the coming months the program team would work individually with each of these entrepreneurs to support them in solving core challenges of their business and help them scale their business through technical assistance and connect them to relevant sources of finance.

Also read: Assam logs 308 fresh Covid-19 cases, one death

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