While there are many tech startups in India targetting the urban population, there are some impacting the lives of the rest 80 per cent
Out of the total 1.3 billion population in India, around 80 per cent are living in poverty. There are some companies in India — both in the tech and no-tech segments — helping this large segment to address various problems related to irrigation, lending, travel, education, etc., by providing cost-effective solutions. These impact ventures are getting financial assistance in the form of grants or funds from various investment firms, called Impact investors.
Here we bring you the list of 10 impact investors that are creating impact in India.
Omidyar Network: Started by Pierre Omidyar, Founder of eBay, Omidyar Network invests in both for-profit businesses and non-profit organisations. As a philanthropic investment firm, it supports market-based approaches with the potential for large-scale, catalytic impact.
It focusses on five key areas — consumer Internet and mobile, education, financial inclusion, governance and citizen engagement, and property rights. Its portfolio companies include Bangalore-based enterprise financing firm Vistaar, Mumbai-based strategic philanthropy foundation Dasra, and Akshara Foundation.
Aavishkaar: Founded in 2001 with a vision to catalyse development in India’s underserved regions, it identifies entrepreneurs, provides them with capital, supplements it with a nurturing environment and helps build sustainable enterprises.
A US$155 million fund, it targets a range of sectors, namely agriculture, dairy, education, energy, handicrafts, health, water and sanitation, technology for development, micro-finance and financial inclusion.
Aavishkaar aims to back 300 startups across emerging economies with significant low-income populations.
Its portfolio companies include Milk Mantra, Ulinks Organics, Zameen, Mera Doctor, Raya Dairy, Vaatsalya Healthcare, Waterlife, and Mela Artisans
Unitus Impact: Unitus Impact is a venture capital firm investing in scalable businesses that improve the livelihoods of the working poor in Asia’s fastest growing economies. Its investments address market inefficiencies by improving existing supply chains to unlock better economic opportunities for the working poor, creating innovative distribution platforms to provide essential goods and services to underserved consumers.
Its portfolio companies include Ruma, MYA, Kinara, MicroBenefits and mobivi
Acumen Fund: Incorporated 2001, Acumen raises charitable donations that allow it to make patient long-term debt or equity investments in early-stage companies providing reliable and affordable access to agricultural inputs and markets, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, and safe drinking water to low-income customers. Its typical commitments of patient capital for an enterprise range from US$250,000 to US$3 million in equity or debt with payback or exit in roughly seven to 10 years.
Its investments include Labournet, Asian Health Alliance, Avani Bio Energy, and EduBridge.
Lok Capital: Founded in 2000, Lok Capital is a micro-finance investment firm supported by US-based non-profit Rockefeller Foundation. Its goal is to support the development of social enterprises to deliver basic services in a commercially viable manner. It offers equity and equity-linked investments to micro-finance institutions (MFIs) and social enterprises in the education, healthcare and livelihoods sectors.
Its investments include Utkarsh Micro Finance and RuralShores.
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF): The fund was established in 1999 by Dell’s founders, Michael and Susan Dell. It focusses on opportunities with the greatest potential to directly and measurably transform the lifelong outcomes of impoverished urban children around the globe.
To date, MSDF has committed more than US$1.1 billion to assist non-profit organisations working in major urban communities in the US, South Africa and India.
Its portfolio companies in India include Edutel, Gray Matters India, MasteryConnect, Intellegrow, and LabourNet.
Khosla Impact Fund: Founded by Vinod Khosla, Founder of Sun Microsystems, Khosla Impact invests in entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving challenging, often intractable socio-economic problems through careful application of science, technology, and design or through creative business models. It is primarily focussed on for-profit enterprises serving people at the bottom half of the world’s economic pyramid: low-income labourers, farmers and families, as well as small businesses in emerging markets.
Its Indian portfolio companies include DripTech, EyeNetra, and Embrace Innovations.
Aspada Advisors: Aspada provides early-stage risk capital to driven teams building innovative businesses in India that help in the economic advancement of underserved populations through access to markets, essential services and capital.
Its approach is to back category leaders in large markets, with the intention of mobilising significant strategic support and capital as our portfolio companies grow.
Its investments include Eye-Q, Xamcheck, Be Well Hospitals, and K-12 Technologies, Capital Float, and NeoGrowth.
Villgro: It aims to enable innovations to impact the poor through social enterprise. It recognises, nurtures and transforms innovation and enterprises to impact lives.
Its portfolio companies are VectorDoc, Skymet, Uniphore, and Micrograam, among others
Accion: The fund builds sustainable, scalable micro-finance institutions (MFIs) by providing them with management services, technical assistance, investments and governance. Like a venture capital firm, it combines investment of capital with managerial expertise.
Its investment vehicles link MFIs to commercial banks and capital markets. Through equity and quasi-equity investments as well as loan guarantees, Accion enables MFIs to expand outreach, strengthen core systems, access innovations, attract deposits, become independent of donor funds and establish financial leverage.
Its portfolio companies are Artoo and Aye Finance, among others.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on e27 on April 6, 2015.