Unitus Seed Fund to Invest in 30 BoP Startups; Receives Sebi Approval

An India focused fund by the Unitus Group has received regulatory approval from the Sebi to invest in 30 startups.

Unitus LogoHere’s some more news from the Unitus Group. An India focused fund by the group has received regulatory approval from the Sebi. Overall, it wants to invest in 30 more startups in sectors including skill development, livelihood, agriculture, technology for development, healthcare, education and access to basic necessities.

The fund is part of the Unitus Group, a financial services group founded in 2000.

Former Microsoft Chairman Ravi Venkatesan has joined the fund as a venture partner and Atul Bindal, the former managing director Asia of Khosla Venture Advisory Services has joined the fund’s investment committee.

The Unitus Seed Fund India already has Rs 20 cr ($3.3 mn) of committed capital and plans to raise a total of Rs 50-70 cr ($9-12 mn) from local investors to take minority position in BoP startups, the company which invested in Welcare Health Systems & GoCoop recently said.

Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, Partner, Unitus Seed Fund India tells me that the fund will give access to Indian investors to seed stage investing in BoP startups. Currently, a lot of money comes from overseas investors.

The fund is targeting $25 mn in total and is looking to achieve this target by the end of 2014. “We are half way there,” said Srikrishna. Most of the new investors will be from the US, Europe & India. Unitus, which has a portfolio of 8 companies, is looking to invest in 8-10 companies in the coming year. It mostly invests in the seed stage, where a proof of concept or a pilot is underway and there is still a need to validate the idea until a startup can raise growth capital. “We help them raise the next round and we participate in the next round as well,” he said.

Unitus takes a minority stake in the company depending on the stage at which the company is.

Earlier in January, Unitus Seed fund raised $8 million from Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla, Mohandas Pai and Mike Murray to back Indian BOP startups.

Nearly $100 mn worth of impact investing happened in India in 2012, according to one report. Over the last decade, over $800 mn has been invested in this category.

Recommended Read: India is at the epicenter of Impact Investing [Omidyar Network]

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