Grow Asia, a leading multi-stakeholder platform focused on building more resilient, and sustainable food systems has unveiled its largest impact fund, which includes a first-of-its-kind blended loan facility targeted at small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Launched at this year’s Grow Asia Investment Forum, the GrowBeyond Fund is designed to leverage up to USD$1bn of climate finance through a public-private blended financing model.
The new fund will unlock inclusive finance for small agri-businesses over the next 10 years, targeting the 70+ million SMEs in Southeast Asia that lie at the forefront of the climate crisis. With the agri-food industry producing more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the fund will prioritize investments in climate-smart agriculture, regenerative practices, and innovative technologies, addressing the pressing climate challenges faced by farmers and rural communities in Southeast Asia.
The GrowBeyond Fund is the most innovative and ambitious of Grow Asia’s Public-Private impact funds and includes the ASEAN Sustainable Agriculture Loan Facility (ASALF), which will address the current fragmentation of climate finance. By consolidating strategic investments from governments, financial institutions, private investors, fintech/agritech companies, alongside technical assistance providers, Grow Asia will deliver a comprehensive suite of crop-specific financial and market services that are required for SMEs to scale their businesses and adopt regenerative practices.
Over the next ten years, the fund aims to support over 200,000 farmers in accessing suitable financial products and technical assistance. Through these investments, it is estimated that each farm will see an increase in productivity of between 20% and 30%, and a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30%.
With climate change increasingly threatening agricultural productivity, food security, and livelihoods in Southeast Asia, the urgency to act has never been greater. Announcing the new fund at this year’s Grow Asia Investment Forum, with the support of the World Economic Forum, Beverley Postma, Executive Director, of Grow Asia shared: “We are pleased to launch our most ambitious impact fund to date, reflecting our ongoing commitment to transforming Southeast Asia’s food systems and addressing climate challenges through public-private partnership. By investing in resilient farming practices, we can empower farmers to make the transition they need to safeguard global food systems against the impacts of climate change.”
Satvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community expressed: “Improving economic outcomes for ASEAN and building climate resilience into agricultural practices is a key priority for the region. As a founding partner of Grow Asia, we welcome this opportunity for increased public-private investment and how it can benefit the many rural communities across the region. We expect that the GrowBeyond Fund will support ASEAN to promote sustainable practices, reduce the use of harmful agrochemicals, and foster innovation. Together, we aim to create a resilient and competitive agricultural sector, while ensuring environmental sustainability through the practical implementation of the ASEAN Regional Guidelines on Sustainable Agriculture. We encourage all partners to collaborate with the ASEAN Secretariat to identify and implement meaningful projects for the region.”
Critical to the success of this latest initiative are multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration to drive the much-needed systemic change. Grow Asia has a long track record of harnessing investments and partnerships from governments, impact investors, financial institutions, philanthropists, and agricultural stakeholders who see the value in blended investments. Together, funders can unlock the potential of sustainable agriculture as a solution to climate change, ensuring a thriving and food-secure future.
“In food, we face the trilemma of health, access + affordability and climate + nature”, says Gim Huay Neo, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum. “We must scale inclusive partnerships that tackle these challenges to support farmers and consumers at the center of these transitions. The combined power of finance, policy, and innovation together with science and indigenous knowledge will get us there faster.”
The ASEAN Sustainable Agriculture Loan Facility will match farmer requirements with investor expectations. It aims to provide long-tenure loans with flexible repayment periods and will provide access to larger loan amounts allowing for capital investments in facilities as farmers across the region adopt new practices supported by innovative technology. This access to financing will be complemented by a package of technical assistance provided by Grow Asia and its partners to enhance the adoption of climate-smart practices alongside business planning and financial literacy.
The launch of this new initiative builds on Grow Asia’s existing public-private impact funds which have already deployed more than USD$20m of technical assistance across six countries in Southeast Asia. With little time to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the region lags behind its targets around Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12), and Climate Action (SDG 13). Through this new fund, there is the opportunity for investors to provide the much-needed capital required to bring the SDG objectives within reach.
This article was originally published by Grow Asia.