Canadian venture capital firm The51 Ventures has launched its Food & AgTech Fund for fundraising with institutional and retail investors. Targeting C$25 million, the fund will invest in women-led and diverse companies in the agriculture, food, and aquaculture technology sectors. The 51 Ventures said it has secured a lead limited partner, the identity of which was not disclosed.
CALGARY, AB, Sept. 1, 2021 /CNW/ – The51 Ventures Food & AgTech Fund is leading investment in women and diverse teams and ventures in the agriculture industry.
The51 Ventures is proud to announce its Food & AgTech Fund is now fundraising with institutional and retail investors. This is the second fund for The51 Ventures, and this time it’s sector-specific: The51 Ventures’ Food & AgTech Fund is a full-stack fund focused on women-led and diverse businesses in the agriculture, food, and aquaculture technology sectors. The Food & AgTech Fund will drive impact and growth by investing capital in those who are at the forefront of innovation in these sectors but statistically underfunded and over-performing: women and diverse founders.
The Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry is a key driver of Canada’s economy, generating $143 billion and accounting for 7.4 per cent of GDP in 2018. And while one in three farm operators between the ages of 35 and 54 are women, only 7 per cent of agri-food tech deals and 3 per cent of the record-breaking volume of dollars invested in the sector in 2018 went to women-founded teams. There is also a need for more diverse representation in ag. The 2016 Canadian Census of Agriculture found that Indigenous agricultural operators accounted for only 1.9 per cent of all agriculture operators in Canada, while another study found that racialized individuals made up only 5.1 per cent of the workforce in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. This reality is a massive barrier to the potential for growth and innovation within the Food & AgTech sector. Moreover, historically women and diverse individuals have played a significant part in agriculture, yet have been largely left out of funding.
The opportunity for investment and growth in this industry is extraordinary. Not only does championing women and diverse founders in a traditionally male-dominated sector offer a fresh perspective and economic potential, but investing in diversity aligns with the industry’s current trajectory. According to Statistics Canada, the next generation of Canadian farm operators are shifting perceptions of the traditional farmer.
What’s more, is the diversity of innovation happening across the Food & AgTech sector. Agri-Food as it’s sometimes known, is a vast industry in Canada, with varied, leading-edge inventions relating to everything from the way we grow and harvest food on land and in water, to improving conditions for livestock, to farm equipment technology, and the development of plant-based proteins and direct to consumer distribution. The next generation of agriculture needs a significant focus on improving food systems and sustainability at a moment when health and climate change have so drastically shown how much a shift is needed. Women and diverse teams are driving change and innovation in Food & AgTech and seeing enormous success.
“The51 recognizes the significant opportunity within the Food & AgTech sector,” says The51 Co-founder and Co-CEO, Judy Fairburn. “Within our existing investment and entrepreneurial community, we have a wealth of human and intellectual capital. In particular, many of our investors have backgrounds in farming, ranching, aquaculture and food production along with deep experience in ESG, science and technology. Additionally, we know that all industries are increasingly becoming consumer-driven which necessitates ‘farm to fork’—again we are leveraging leaders in our community who bring valuable experience and know-how. Our capital and our community are a powerful platform for women and diverse founder-led innovation and growth.”
Women have increasingly taken on leadership in Agri-Food over the past few decades. The last Census of Agriculture showed that from 2011 to 2016 the percentage of women running their agriculture business rose from 5.6 per cent to 7.2 per cent. Statistics Canada notes this is actually a long-term trend that began in 1991 when women accounted for only 25.7 per cent of all farmers (women now make up 28.7 per cent of all farmers according to the 2016 data). While women and diverse founders are gravitating to the Agri-Food sector, the capital has been slow to follow—The51’s Food & Ag Tech Fund will change that and accelerate this opportunity of financial participation.
Stepping up to activate capital to support women-led and diverse teams in agriculture, agri-food and technology investment, The51’s Food & AgTech Fund will power the necessary change already in motion in the Financial Feminist TM economy. Alongside the shift in industry representation, the wealth transfer in Canada is underway. By 2030, 65 per cent of Canada’s wealth will be in the hands of women, coupled with consumers’ spending influence and corporate supply chain diversification targets, and The51 Ventures is at the forefront of this social and economic opportunity.
With a lead Limited Partner (LP) secured, The51’s $25M Food & AgTech Fund is now actively fundraising with institutional and retail investors. The51’s new fund will subsequently start investing in innovative companies with diverse leadership teams who can offer financial gains for investors alongside social and/or environmental impact.