Grow Asia launches GrowRight fund to drive investments in southeast Asia’s agri-food sector

Cargill and the Government of Japan have come onboard as anchor partners of the fund. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Grow Asia, a nonprofit established by the World Economic Forum and the ASEAN Secretariat to build partnerships for more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems, has launched a US$6.6mn multi-donor impact fund to drive more responsible investments in Asia’s food and forestry sector

The fund, called ‘GrowRight’, will support a blend of partner-matching and training programmes for investors and policymakers to support the adoption of sustainable finance mechanisms. Investing responsibly in agriculture and forestry can help achieve environmental, social, and financial returns, and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. The fund is supported by the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), and a matching investment from Cargill

A comprehensive suite of farm-to-fork programmes will leverage the expertise of all parties and build on Grow Asia’s experience in developing and operationalising the ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry - an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) framework for investment policy and practice adopted by the ten ASEAN Member States in 2018. In parallel, Grow Asia has launched complementary multi-donor impact funds that promote agri-food innovation (GrowVentures), women’s economic empowerment (GrowHer), and climate change adaptation and resilience (GrowBeyond), which Cargill’s investment will also support. 

“Unlike conventional impact funds - which are managed by investment managers who make equity or debt investments with the intent of delivering financial returns alongside social or environmental impact. Grow Asia’s impact funds seek to reach the last mile. The programmes supported by the GrowRight Impact Fund 1 Bain & Co, southeast Asia’s Green Economy: Pathway to Full Potential. will bridge the gap between siloed capital flows from public, private, and philanthropic investors, extend the reach of inclusive and green finance, and improve legal and policy frameworks on responsible investments in our region,” says Beverley Postma, executive director of Grow Asia

“Cargill is honored to support the important work led by Grow Asia, and commit our expertise and investments to the GrowRight Impact Fund. Working with likeminded public and private stakeholders, we have an opportunity to develop more inclusive and sustainable ASEAN value chains through responsible investing, agri-food innovation and climate resilience. Cargill is a global agribusiness that aims to nourish the world in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way, and we believe that investing in and strengthening micro, small and medium agriculture enterprises are the key to unlocking the economic potential of the region.” Ross Hamou-Jennings, Cargill APAC chair, added.

"We welcome the launch of Grow Asia’s multi-donor impact fund to drive responsible investment in Southeast Asia’s agriculture system,” stated Satvinder Singh, deputy secretary-general for the ASEAN Economic Community. “This work, thanks to support from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund and matching funding from Cargill, will help scale the operationalisation and impact of the ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture, and Forestry – a journey we embarked on with Grow Asia and its partners in 2018. We commend Grow Asia’s commitment to sustainable, inclusive agriculture in the region, and look forward to seeing the impact and learnings that emerge."