Note: The following companies are listed to demonstrate both their commercial potential and their social impact. Their inclusion in this portfolio of social impact investments is not meant in any manner to be an endorsement of the company or its future prospects.
Cardinal Resources. The need for clean water in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, is widely known. Some authorities believe that in future decades water will be as hotly contested as oil has been in past decades. Cardinal Resources, based in Pittsburgh, PA, is a supplier of clean water to rural areas. Powered by solar energy, its patented process filters particulates and disinfects the remainder using local sand and salt, providing clean drinking water at a fraction of a cent per gallon. Its products can meet the needs of both industrial firms and rural communities. In conjunction with selected partners, Cardinal Resources is offering a lease-purchase option to make the acquisition of clean water affordable for rural communities in developing countries. Cardinal has been a profitable company for several years with sales increasing towards $3 million in 2011 and it now seeks to raise $3 million in order to facilitate its expansion, beginning in Senegal. Cardinal has a number of additional opportunities in East Africa, India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. Investors who want to learn more about Cardinal’s product and expansion plans are encouraged to write to its CEO, Kevin Jones.
Sevamob. Except for the truly wealthy, health care in India is provided to its 1.2 billion residents by a fragmented mix of private and government clinics, hospitals and specialists often with long waits and uncertain outcomes. Sevamob seeks to systematize health care through a subscription model that will offer preventive and minor care at the subscriber’s doorstep, as well as access to hospitals, specialists and pharmacies for additional fees. The monthly subscriber fee begins at Rs. 100 (approximately $2 /mos) and slightly more in urban areas. While these are not all-inclusive rates, subscribers also have the option of acquiring health insurance coverage for an addition fee for protection from more expensive procedures. Health care consultants at its central location monitor the quality of care delivered and the need for referrals to specialists and hospitalization. Medical data is recorded on tablet computers by field officers and transmitted to the central location for record keeping and quality control. At these low subscription rates, Sevamob will access an enormous market with considerable potential for cross sales of other products and services. Having recently started, Sevamob has about 300 subscribers now and plans to enroll about 2,000 within its first twelve months. Sevamob anticipates reaching break-even within two years and plans rapid expansion from its initial locations in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Sevamob is currently raising seed capital and interested investors can contact its CEO, Shelley Saxena.
Runa, LLC. One of the best ways for people in developed countries to help the poor is to buy the products that they make or the raw materials from those countries. Unfortunately, extractive industries like oil, timber or mining of metals permanently remove those resources from the country, thus reducing its wealth. In contrast, Runa, LLC buys guayasa tea leaves from indigenous farmers in Amazonian regions of Ecuador under contracts that protect both the company and the growers by requiring five years’ notice prior to termination or sales to another party. Runa turns those tea leaves into a bagged tea drink now available at Whole Foods and other retailers in the New York area and a bottled beverage that will be introduced this spring. The naturally sweet but high energy content of Runa may enable its rapid growth as both a health and energy product, while resulting in increased planting of guayasa trees and increased incomes for indigenous residents of the Amazon basin, as well as preservation of their lifestyle. Runa is a start-up company that is in the final stages of its first capital raise. If you are an investor that wants to make an impact, write to the CEO, Tyler Gage.
MicroEnergy Credits. MEC sells solar lights and cookstoves to poor households, mostly in Africa and south Asia, through microfinance institutions in those countries. As mentioned in The Economist in September, 2010, the carbon credits “earned” by replacing fuels which emit greenhouse gases are measured, validated, aggregated, and sold by a broker on the voluntary carbon market. Through a revenue sharing model, most of the net revenues return to the country where the credits originated. MEC expects to increase its carbon revenues by 300% in 2011 as it scales its business model and will have a total of $650,000 in revenues. Its investors at this point are angel investors and development organizations. For information about investing, write to April Allderdice, CEO, and Don Schlosser, CFO.
One Degree Solar. For low-income households and small businesses that are forced to rely on candles, kerosene, batteries and other polluting energy sources for lighting and power, One Degree Solar (ODS) has developed the “BrightBox,” an affordable, solar-powered battery kit that powers light bulbs, phones, and virtually any USB device. Conventional alternatives in the micro-solar market require specialized tools, training, and spare parts, making after-sales support difficult and expensive for both suppliers and customers. This issue is further exacerbated by the lack of direct contact with customers and knowledge of their locations. ODS has integrated after-sales support and mobile-based customer service into each step of its value chain, providing a customer experience designed to create lasting and widespread customer adoption. The principal of ODS, Gaurav Manchanda, has considerable Africa experience and potential investors should click to contact Gaurav.
United Villages. United Villages, Inc. is a US company that owns a majority interest in an Indian company by the same name. United Villages improves the supply chain in the Jaipur region of India by encouraging retailers in rural villages to use text messaging to purchase their inventory which is then shipped and delivered by UV as shown in this BBC video. The alternative is to close the shop and travel considerable distances with poor infrastructure to purchase the goods and then return. UV hopes to reach cash flow break-even within a few months. Those interested in investing can contact the CEO, Amir Alexander Hasson.