First of kind fund provides opportunity for Indian investors to invest in high-potential startups before conventional venture funds
Unitus Seed Fund India (USFI), a new India-based seed-stage investment fund, has received approval from India’s securities regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), to start investment activities. USFI is registered as a Category 1 Venture Capital Fund under the Alternative Investment Funds segment. USFI will co-invest in Indian startups with our offshore seed fund, providing the first of its kind opportunity for Indian investors to get in ahead of conventional venture capital, accessing exciting new companies that serve vast under-served low-income markets in India.
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While impact investing has been established in India for over a decade, attracting more than INR 4,000 crore (US$675 million) of predominantly-overseas risk capital, Unitus Seed Fund India’s approval by SEBI marks the first time that Indian national investors have access to a local seed-stage impact fund. USFI already has INR 20 crore (US$3.3 million) of committed capital and plans to raise up to a total of INR 50-75 crore (US$ 9-12 million) from Indian investors to take minority positions in “BoP Startups” – companies building scalable businesses delivering improved livelihoods and innovative affordable products & services to 100 crore (1 billion) low-income people in India..
“We see tremendous opportunity to mobilize Indian investment capital by enabling investors to get in on the ground floor of exciting new businesses that are targeting the massively-under-served market of a 100 crore (1 billion) Indians who get by on under less than 2 lakhs (US$3,300) annual family income but nonetheless represent enormous purchasing power,” said Will Poole, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Unitus Seed Fund. “We anticipate investing in up to 40 of these BoP Startups over the next 4 years. There is dearth of seed capital in this segment of the market, making the investment opportunities very attractive.”
Founding investors provide validation of the opportunity
Several impact investing luminaries and senior business leaders are among the founding investors of Unitus Seed Fund India, including:
* T. V. Mohandas Pai (Chairman of Manipal Global Education and co-founder Aarin Capital) * Dr. Ranjan Pai (CEO of Manipal Education and Medical Group) * ‘Bala’ V. Balakrishnan (member of the Board, Infosys) * Ravi Venkatesan (former Chairman, Microsoft India) * Hemendra Kothari (Chairman of DSP Blackrock) * Santosh Huralikoppi, (CEO of N S Infotech) * Kumar Mehta (CEO of Cross-Tab) * Pramod Saxena (Founder & Managing Director of Oxigen Services) * Rajeev Bakshi (Managing Director, METRO Cash & Carry India) * Govind Iyer (Managing Partner India of Egon Zehnder)
Senior India business leaders join Unitus Seed Fund
Unitus Seed Fund also announced that Ravi Venkatesan, board member of Infosys, former Chairman of Microsoft India, and author of best-selling “Conquering the Chaos – Win India Win Everywhere” has joined as a Venture Partner of Unitus Seed Fund where he will extend his existing role on the fund’s investment committee and oversee operations of the SEBI-approved fund, along with the fund’s Bangalore-based partner, Srikrishna Ramamoorthy.
Atul Bindal, former managing director Asia for Khosla Venture Advisory Services and former president of Airtel Mobile Services for South Asia, has also joined with Mr. Venkatesan and others on the investment committees overseeing Unitus Seed Fund’s domestic and overseas investment decisions.