A dash of (A)cumen: The recipe behind Acumen Fund’s investment strategy

Yesterday, Acumen Fund‘s Chief Investment Officer Brian Trelstad came to NYU to conduct a live case study on a real company that Acumen Fund invested in, in an effort to educate MBA and other students on the investing strategy and process of this innovative social venture fund. I actually wrote about Acumen’s approach sometime back.

The company under scope was Ziqitza Healthcare Limited (better known at Dial 1298), a for-profit ambulance service located currently in Mumbai aiming to provide ambulance assistance for all in 15 minutes. Using a willingness to pay revenue model, the company subsidies services for the poorest through fees generated from providing care to those that can afford to pay.

Before I jump into the heart of the case study, here is a video that we were shown at the outset of the lunch. In addition to providing ambulance services, the company is now also figuring out innovative ways to power their vehicles with renewables. You can read the rest of the review after the jump.

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[TCI-Changemaker] CSIM: An NGO to groom social entrepreneurs

The ThinkChange India staff is committed to providing our readers with interviews with people we believe are at the brink of something special but have for the most part been overlooked by the mainstream media. Readers will be able to see other conversations under our TC-I Changemakers tab.

In this edition TCI-changemaker focuses on Prof. K.L Srivastava, chief Coordinator of Center for Social Initiative and Management (CSIM) Hyderabad. A charitable organization cum learning centre that first started in Chennai, it has quickly spread to Bengaluru and Hyderabad and Mumabai with an aim to groom professionals from various fields to be social entrepreneurs by providing affordable and non-intrusive training programs. Badhri explores the Hyderabad wing of this unique organization and the gentleman at its helm in this conversation.

Badhri: Prof. Srivastava, Thanks for taking time off for this interview. Before we discuss about CSIM, can you please quickly outline your professional and educational background?

K.L. Srivastava: My pleasure. I grew up in a village in UP and completed my B Tech (Agricultural Engineering) degree from the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology in 1966, and M Tech (Agricultural Engineering) with specialization in Soil and Water Management from IIT Kharagpur in 1972. Some of the positions I have held before joining CSIM in 2006 are: Associate Professor at the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar; Senior Scientist, Natural Resource Management, ICRISAT, Hyderabad; Consultant, Indo-Dutch APWELL project on participatory irrigation and rural development; and Natural Resource Management Specialist in some NGOs in Hyderabad.

Badhri: How did you come to be part of CSIM?

Prof. Srivastava: I have always believed that we can achieve equitable and sustainable development in India in a free market economy by strengthening the citizen sector. Due to my interest in social entrepreneurship, Corporate Social Responsibility and management education in the social sector organizations, I acquired knowledge in these fields through self study and also by joining several discussion forums. While working with PRDIS (an NGO dealing with agriculture and rural development), I started working as a guest faculty at CSIM in 2005. Subsequently, I was invited to take over as the Chief Coordinator of CSIM in June 2006.

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Mumbai in 2100: Underwater

A new Greenpeace report states that by 2100, the main thoroughfares and heartbeat of India’s Gateway will be underwater, due to global warming. The Greenpeace report predicts that

a potential increase in temperatures by 4 to 5 degrees due to greenhouse emissions at the current rate would mean a corresponding rise in sea levels of up to five metres by 2100.

This, in turn, would imply that approximately 50 million Indians would be rendered homeless and become ‘climate migrants’.

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Organic farming company gets VC backing

From VC Circle:

This could be the first venture capital investment in an organic farming business. Mumbai-based venture capital firm Nexus India Capital has made an undisclosed investment in organic farming company Suminter India Organics Pvt. Ltd.

This is an interesting investment as one does not normally associate VC funding with farming. Suminter, however, attracted the investors due to its scalability. The company actually pays its contract farmers a surplus over market prices for their goods, centralizes it and then exports it to other parts of the world.

The company works on a buy-back arrangement, in which it pays farmers a premium, typically 10-15 per cent, over the market price. The harvest is processed and packaged at a central unit and then shipped overseas. It exports directly to the US and through a Netherlands-based subsidiary to Europe. The funding will be used to expand its reach to 10 Indian states.