This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Unitus, one of the early entrants in microlending in the developing world and, as a result, in impact investing, is continuing to innovate. The Unitus Seed Fund provides venture capital for people near the base of the pyramid in India.
Yesterday, Unitus announced a partnership with Pfizer PFE +0.76%, PATH , Manipal Hospitals and Narayana Health to provide up to $85,000 each to healthcare entrepreneurs in India in the form of “non-dilutive” capital.
Dave Richards, Managing Director of Unitus Seed Fund, said, “There is a massive seed funding gap in most emerging markets due to a lack of a local culture for high-risk ‘angel’ investing by those with wealth. This is particularly true for high demand/low supply emerging sectors such as education, healthcare, retail, agriculture, water and even many technology driven businesses that have substantial brick-and-mortar elements.”
Richards went on to explain their thinking about making these investments to make money for investors. “Some people have suggested that this type of seed funding can only be done by philanthropy. We believe that this can only be done well and scaled if it’s on a for-profit basis. We invest mostly in first-time entrepreneurs seeking to build a venture-backed business. So, we spend a lot of time helping them to understand the whole investor world and perspective and then function as their investment bankers as they seek to raise scale-up capital.”
“We believe that many of the next billion dollar businesses delivering affordable products or services in areas such as education, healthcare and livelihoods will be built in India … and then exported,” Richards concluded.
On Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 11:00 AM Eastern, Richards will join me for a live discussion about the investment strategy the Unitus is using in India. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Unitus Seed Fund:
Unitus Seed Fund is the leading venture seed fund supporting startups innovating for the masses in India. Unitus invests in healthcare, education, mobile commerce & value-added services, marketplaces & e-commerce, retail & distribution, agriculture, and water & energy sectors. Founded in 2012, Unitus Seed Fund is part of the Unitus Group, a premier financial services group operating in India and other emerging markets since 2000. Unitus Seed Fund is based in Bangalore and Seattle.
Dave Richards is an experienced entrepreneur, executive and global early-stage investor. He has been an early investor in microfinance and other emerging market sector businesses serving the masses. Dave has been part of the Unitus Group since 2005, helping to lead efforts to select, invest in and support in entrepreneurs in many developing countries. He led the Unitus Labs incubator for 2 years including the successful research and spinout of both Unitus Impact (livelihoods venture fund) and Unitus Seed Fund. Dave also oversaw Unitus Investment Management, the General Partner of Unitus Equity Fund (microfinance venture fund), was a board member of Unitus Capital (Bangalore-based investment bank) and on the investment committee for Unitus Impact (venture fund). Previously, Dave developed multiple high-growth technology (software, mobile, digital media, SaaS) businesses at RealNetworks, Sybase and Symantec from startup to multiple hundred million dollar global enterprises. He also is a partner with Social Venture Partners Seattle and is a co-founder of the Social Innovation Fast Pitch startup angel fund. Dave received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.