Impact Investing Spotlight: A New Kind of Investment

What happens when tech industry leaders put their money behind entrepreneurship serving lower-income Indians? An opportunity to build markets and drive change for the people who need it the most in India is created. This is the latest topic on impact investing explored by the Case Foundation and magazine in partnership with ImpactAlpha in this week’s case study on Unitus Seed Fund (Unitus).

Unitus, created by Will Poole, is one of a group of investment funds attracting the attention of investors seeking both competitive financial returns and philanthropic value. Unitus is focused on providing seed stage funding – early stage investments to help entrepreneurs develop and grow their initial business models – and operational and networking support to help these early ideas grow into viable and scalable businesses. There are many influential investors from tech and business who are interested in being a part of this new investment strategy, including Bill Gates, who is an investor in Unitus.

Unitus’ proposition is based on Poole’s philosophy that, “companies that target those customers well, that know their needs and that learn how to meet those needs are going to be valuable companies.” The fund specifically looks to support businesses Bangalore, India that serve both the growing affluent market and those in the “base of the pyramid” (BoP)—individuals earning $10 per day or less.

Funds like Unitus are changing the narrative around money flows into developing economies. By making sound investments in local businesses, they are providing a vehicle that empowers local communities as consumers by improving their access to the goods and services they value, and as entrepreneurs, developing viable business solutions. This model contrasts with traditional perceptions that these dollars should be used strictly as charity. And it should come as no surprise, according to the International Finance Corporation’s report, The Next Four Billion, the four billion people who comprise the BoP are a mostly untapped $12.5 trillion market. The potential for financial returns and social impact is significant.

Read the full article about the impact of Unitus and the range of top investors Poole and his team are attracting to impact investing through their fund.