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What Investment: Cultivating Change

Regenerate Ventures is an EIS fund that invests in firms using technology to help solve climate change issues caused by traditional farming methods.

One way in which investors can access some of the most exciting companies tackling issues resulting from climate change is through specialist investment companies such as Regenerate Ventures. The group is run by four experienced professionals with a good track record of investing in growth companies seeking scalable solutions to climate issues.

They manage an enterprise investment scheme (EIS) and have just made their first investment. Early-stage opportunities The Regenerate Ventures EIS Fund has a minimum investment of £25,000 but, because it invests in EIS qualifying companies, there are a number of useful tax breaks. The fund aims to achieve a return of five times investors’ money over a five- to seven-year period, which means investors could see their money grow to over £100,000. This is tax free as long as the fund is held for at least three years. Because the companies in which Regenerate invests are ‘early stage’, there is a degree of risk and investors must be prepared to leave their money in the fund for the full five to seven years, which is typically the time it takes for an EIS to realise all its investments. Of course, some of the companies might not succeed.

Agricultural advances The Ventures Fund is a portfolio of companies focused on what is known as ‘agri-tech’, digital solutions to climate change issues that are a result of traditional agricultural operations. The first investment is a good example of where technology meets agriculture, and, importantly, where the investment potential is. UK-based business Climate Edge is a communications and data platform that links small farmers in developing countries, such as Africa, to tools and support, from a wide range of suppliers, currently not available to them. In many instances it will be in areas where there is no internet. The support ranges from access to better seeds, fertiliser and pesticides, to advice on best practice, access to finance and insurance, and much more. Already, more than 300 companies providing agricultural products and services have joined the platform, and more than 100,000 farmers in Kenya and Tanzania are using the platform to improve what they do. Climate Edge is on track to have one million users by the end of this year. Looking further ahead, there are around 40 million people in Kenya who live in rural areas and rely on farming for their food and income, with similar numbers in Uganda and Tanzania. Then there is the rest of Africa, and beyond

Lawrence Gosling is editor-in-chief of What Investment.

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