Impactful investing: Bill Gates invests in Unitus seed fund LP

18th Nov 2014
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“I firmly believe that 50 years from now, he will be remembered for his charitable work, no one will even remember what Microsoft is. ~ Malcolm Gladwell.

Bill Gates is doubling down with his philanthropic outreach. Gates’ has confirmed his Impact Investment in Unites Seed Fund LP. The new injection of investment in Unitus is not from the foundation account but from his personal fund, the amount is undisclosed.

Regarding his investment in Unitus Bill Gates said “Impact investing is a powerful model with the potential to build markets and drive change for the people who need it most”.

In 2006, Gates announced that in 2008 he would step down from the helm of Microsoft in order to concentrate his efforts fully on the foundation and make the world a better place for the underprivileged. Since the man doesn’t show a sign of a pause, he is cruising in full speed with philanthropic space ship.


BillGatesImpactInvesting

Malcom Gladwell made an observation about the exemplifying deeds of Gates. Eventually entrepreneurs will be venerated for how they helped mankind, not their ability to make a ton of money. He says “Gates is the most ruthless capitalist, and then he wakes up one morning and he says, ‘enough.’ And he steps down, he takes his money, he takes it off the table.” Currently Gates Foundation is said to be the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world, with US$2 billion fund size.

Bill Gates move has inspired many, like Wipro’s Prem Azimji. The new Impact Investment in Unites Seed Fund, will even inspire more HNIs & entrepreneurs to give back and do good in the world, and while that are at it make a returns on their investment. Will Poole, co-founder of Unitus Seed Fund says “We offer a new way for those people of Indian origin to make a difference in their country — and to make some money

Do good and make some money the Unitus way

Unitus Seed Fund plans to make 10-12 new investments per year and they are investing upto Rs. 150 Crores in early stage impact businesses that aims to reach the ‘Base of the Pyramid’ in healthcare, education, agriculture, livelihoods, technology and basic necessities. Currently USF has 13 portfolio companies and the fund is gunning to increase the count to 26 startups in the next 18 months. The fund as spread its presence across India’s West, East, and North in addition to a broader presence in the South. And recently appointed seven ‘Startup Scouts‘ in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi/NRC, Uttar Pradesh & Rajasthan.

Here is the snap shot of USF portfolio startups

mGaadi, an uber like mobile based market place for hailing auto rickshaws. Welcare, provides an affordable eye screening solutions to preventing blindness. Commerzpoint is an Online marketplace for healthcare services. iStar, Employability and placement services that provides a follow-on job training for graduates of India’s non-elite colleges graduates. AddressHealth, comprehensive Pediatric Healthcare Clinics Partnering with Schools. Caravan Craft, Contemporary merchandise from traditional Indian artisans. GoCoop, Online Marketplace for Cooperatives and Community-based enterprises. Hippocampus, schools and tutoring for rural India with high quality and affordable budget. Jiffstore, Mobile app bringing local groceries to your door. Milaap, Online crowd-fundraising platform for microloans. Smile Merchants: Affordable dental clinics in rural India. Villgro, Sustainable agriculture IP company. Jack on Block, Trains men/women laborers out of India’s vast informal economy with technical and soft skills. To service home and small businesses as plumbers, electricians, housekeepers.

Unitus invests in India through two arms – a Sebi-registered rupee fund, Unitus Seed Fund India and Unitus Seed Fund LP, an offshore venture capital fund which Bill gates has invested in. Along with Bill gates 50 big names have committed to Unitus’ offshore India-focused fund. Desh Deshpande (formerly Sycamore Networks), Romesh Wadhwani (Symphony TG), Vinod Kosla (Khosla Ventures), Steve Singh (Cleartrip, Concur) Soma Somasegar, Anoop Gupta, Bharat Shah, Nagesh Pabbisetty (Microsoft), Dilip Wagle (McKinsey), Geeta Aiyer (Boston Common), Kamesh Aiyer, Pradeep Singh (Aditi), Prady Misra, Vikram Chalana (Winshuttle) and few more foundations.

According to Unitus official update: “New investors in Unitus Seed Fund India include Srikanth Iyer (former CEO of Pearson India), Sharvil Parikh (Phenix Consulting), Kishore Musale (Astarc Group), Jacob Ninan (Kottackal Business Solutions), Aroon Raman (Raman FibreScience). Unitus is currently accepting inquiries from other HNI Indian nationals wishing to participate in the growth of startup businesses.”

Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner of Unitus Seed Fund said “We are very pleased to announce our growing group of Indian HNI investors who see the opportunity to invest in innovative high-growth startups serving the masses in India”, he added “We are finding a large number of high-quality entrepreneurs in India who are creating disruptive businesses that can deliver superior financial returns to investors while improving the lives of millions of India’s low-income populations.

Tomorrow: Unitus Seed Fund is hosting a startup mixer, with a session “Three ways to open a VC’s wallet and two ways to close it.

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