Mayani, a Philippine-based agri-fisheries startup, has secured $1.7 million in oversubscribed seed funding anchored by the Silicon Valley agtech venture capital (VC) AgFunder through its GROW Impact Fund.

Mayani said in a statement on Tuesday the funding round, which closed in mid-2022, also paved the entry for a global coalition of backers including the Singapore-based Atlas Ventures and Accelerating Asia Ventures, Australian blue economy-focused firm Ocean Impact Organization, South Korean VC TheVentures, and the United States and Southeast Asia funds of marquee VC Plug and Play Ventures, known for its early investments in over 30 unicorns.

Several strategic angels, the Jimenez family (known for establishing broadcasting giant GMA), along with the families behind the Malaysian conglomerate OSK Group and Philippine retailer Abenson Group also participated the round.

Mayani said it seeks to transform the Philippine rural food value chain by solidifying its techno-operational stack and expanding its supply chain operations across the archipelago nation.

“Ever since we started in 2019, we galvanized this collective conviction that we’re really solving meaningful problems here in the agri-fisheries sector and its $9 billion output value,” said Jeff Barreiro, Mayani’s Founder and Executive Chairman.

“Starting with access to market, securing our moat through an ecosystem approach, and then indexing on the various data points from there to sequentially unlock possible adjacent opportunities in agri-inputs and trade credit, we’re building the bedrock upon which we could drive more traction and positive impact,” he added.

Mayani’s technological stack was initially funded through grants from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), spanning proprietary digital supply chain tools built around the nuances of the Philippine agri-fisheries sector and fused with their farmers engagement team’s “boots on the ground” and localized social capital.

Currently, the startup directly sources harvests from a grassroots network of over 139,000 smallholder farmers across five regions in the country’s most populous and largest island, Luzon: from Calabarzon in the south, to Ilocos in the north, Cagayan Valley, Cordilleras, and the western coastal region of Zambales.

It then leverages demand-matched supply data to achieve efficiencies in a shorter route-to- market with less middlemen as they deliver fresh produce and even sustainably caught seafood downstream to buyers.

Those buyers comprise a clutch of solid business to business (B2B) players like international hotels and restaurants, food processors, and large supermarket chains such as WalterMart, Robinsons Group, and MerryMart.

The resulting value chain creates cost savings on the part of buyers while making their supply chain more resilient and dependable.

On the other hand, the farmers’ farm-gate and post-catch incomes are boosted by at least 30 percent while reducing food loss by 20 percent.

Mayani also actively pushes “imperfect crops”, a stream of cosmetically unglamorous produce such as crooked carrots and small potatoes, to the mainstream market.

It has moved over 6.5 metric tons of these “imperfect crops” thus far for the business to consumer (B2C) segment, while over 40 metric tons for the B2B segment.

“At no other point in recent history has the discussion about food security and food resilience been more critical. In the face of increasingly severe climate and supply shocks over the past few years, attention to these issues has only continued to grow,” said John Friedman, Asia Director of AgFunder.

According to him, this is a global concern, and Southeast Asia has established itself as a region with much to contribute to food system transformation.

“We see a wave of fresh ideas arising from Southeast Asian entrepreneurs, with Mayani in the Philippines in prime position to drive digital transformation at a scale that can deliver immense and long-lasting impact on the sector,” he added.

Mayani began its supply chain operations in Southern Luzon by focusing on lowland fresh produce such as lettuce and eggplant, but has since expanded in various agri-categories including poultry, processed commodities like Liberica coffee, and high-value fruits such as honey dew gold.

Cognizant of the Philippines bearing one of the longest discontinuous coastlines in the world (over 34,000 km) with rich aquatic resources, the startup is also making growth strides within the traceable seafood category as they empower over 1.5 million small fisherfolks involved in the fisheries and aquaculture sector (1.8% contribution to national gross domestic product) while helping its institutional buyers comply with their sustainability commitments.

The startup is said to have primed its Series A discussions already on the back of significant growth achieved in the 2022 operating year.

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