Sankhya Women Impact Funds Investing in Women; Investing in Impact

3rd Jan 2015
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As impact investment continues to grow at an extraordinary pace across the world, one of the most important emerging issues in the space is around gender lens investing. The term is still a work in progress – hardly surprising in a world when investment capital is controlled by men and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. However, the development of the concept is imperative, and signals that the time for women to have a meaningful role has finally come.

At this point, it is about taking small steps to change the paradigm – not to exclude men, but to include women. And for investors and businesses to innovate so that women can have a seat at the table. In this spirit, we are setting up Sankhya Women Impact Funds to address the gender gap in the sector. It is the first fund of its kind globally. And it is a pioneering effort by women, to and means “dualism” – an ancient system of Indian philosophy that balances the attributes of the soul with the demands of the material world. And Sankhya Funds have a dual goal: to empower women investors and to improve the lives of the women that investee companies serve.

Reena Mithal and Shloka Nath are the Founders and Managing Partners of the Fund (biographies included below). Reena is a seasoned impact investor and has mentored a number of social enterprises across India. She has spent three decades working in global financial markets and investment research. Shloka is a former journalist and policy expert focused on social enterprise. She is an expert on Financial Inclusion and was a Director of Harvard’s 2012 Social Enterprise Conference. Reena and Shloka share a passion and belief in the importance of both women entrepreneurs and women impact investors to drive change across the economic and social spectrum.

The first Sankhya Fund has early commitments from key anchor investors in India and is currently applying for SEBI registration. Following the anticipated launch of the India fund in April 2015, we plan to launch a second Fund based in the US with global investors. For us, the basic investment thesis is impact focused and gender driven, and with that we intend to contribute to the evolution of the gender lens investment debate.

All investments will be made in India for now, in early stage enterprises in sectors that address the needs of women in education, skill development, healthcare, agribusiness and financial inclusion. The funds are not restricted to investing in women entrepreneurs and are not confined to investing in companies that exclusively serve women. However, the objective is to support sustainable and scaleable businesses that will improve livelihoods, create financial independence and support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families.

Equally significant, the source of capital is gender centric, and with it comes an incentive for change. The problems of poverty are hugely gendered, be it something obvious like maternal health or a less obvious sector like agriculture. We mobilize capital from professional women who are looking for opportunities to address these challenges from a perspective that they identify with and believe in. At Sankhya, we believe that women investors can play a critical role in providing not just capital but the right type of capital. This is a nascent field and we hope to build evidence and examples to encourage the growth of female investors and entrepreneurs in the sector

The Leadership Team:

Reena V Mithal, PhD


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Reena has spent over two decades working in global financial markets and investment research. She was on the founding team and Board of Directors at CreditSights Inc., an independent credit research firm based in New York, London, and Singapore. She was the President and COO of the company’s Asia business, and previously managed the firm’s Global Quantitative Risk Group in New York. Formerly, Reena was part of US-based Emerging Markets research teams at Putnam Investments, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers, where she developed investment strategies and models for global clients. Reena was Chairperson of the Board of Collegiate Charter Schools in New York, which established a network of schools in low-income communities through public-private partnerships. Reena has a PhD in Economics and Finance from Columbia University’s Business School, and worked on projects for the World Bank, IMF and the Council on Foreign Relations.  She has an MA from Jawaharlal Nehru University and The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a BA from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Over the past three years Reena has been an active angel investor in social enterprises in India and has mentored several organizations across sectors. Reena founded Sankhya Partners in July 2012 to invest in and work with social enterprises, and is Managing Partner, Sankhya Women Impact Funds.Shloka Nath

Shloka brings over a decade of extensive experience in journalism and public policy, along with social sector expertise to the Sankhya team. Shloka has worked in print & broadcast

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journalism with the BBC in London, as a news anchor with New Delhi Television (NDTV) & Principal Correspondent with Forbes in Mumbai, with a special emphasis on financial inclusion, social enterprise and legal affairs. In 2010, she was nominated for India’s highest awards in journalism for her reportage on microfinance in India. Industry experts such as CGAP, Financial Access Initiative, and leading publications such as the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have repeatedly cited her work. She has also been involved in the publication of several ground-breaking industry reports, including Beyond the Pioneer, Monitor Inclusive Market’s recently published report on impact investing, and has authored a special report on innovations and barriers to scale in financial inclusion in India for Forbes. Shloka has spoken at several conferences as an expert on Financial Inclusion. Shloka has a Master in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was a Director of Harvard’s 2012 Social Enterprise Conference. She was also Managing Editor for the Kennedy School Review, Harvard’s PremierPublic Policy Journal. Shloka has a BSc in Government from The London School of Economics and Political Science. Shloka joined Sankhya Partners in June 2014, and is Managing Partner, Sankhya Women Impact Funds.

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