Unitus is unequivocally committed to delivering both profits and social impact for our investors. We’re confident that this is the only way to drive sustainable positive change for low-income populations. Our model for delivering profits is described more fully in our private placement memorandum and other investor materials. There are three ways in which we maximize the positive social impact of the seed investments we make:
- Company Selection. We invest only in for-profit companies that are able to serve large base of the economic pyramid (“BoP”) populations, providing product and services that improve their lives. We do not invest in entertainment, vice purveyors, or any company we do not see making a sustained commitment to positive social impact to the BoP through their operations. Companies that also serve middle and upper income customers are fine with us as well, as long as they have a material positive impact on the BoP.
- Impact Metrics. Working with the CEO of each portfolio company, we develop a small number of measurable impact goals which are monitored at least quarterly. These goals are closely aligned with their business operations and success. For example, an education services company tracks how many students are enrolled and whether they are reading at grade level, and identifies if they come from low or middle income families.
- Policies to Align Values. For every investment made in 2013 and after, we have discussed and agreed on a set of core company policies and guiding principles which are memorialized in various corporate documents, employee handbooks, and policies. We believe this attention to good company governance helps entrepreneurs build more valuable and resilient companies.
Company Selection and Impact Metrics are self-evident. To ensure values-alignment with each portfolio company and execution of appropriate policy and adherence to principles, our investment documents include affirmative agreements by each portfolio company as follows, which we call the “Profits and Values Approach“:
- include the Profits and Values Approach in all business strategies and operations;
- acknowledge that compliance with the Profit and Values approach might not lead to long-term profit maximization and/or could impact near-term economic value for shareholders [although we believe neither should be true, not everyone does];
- ensure a continued focus on providing goods and/or services that benefit the BoP among the company’s customer base;
- provide Unitus with reasonable access to all information necessary to monitor and evaluate the Company’s compliance with the Profit and Values Approach and attainment of social impact goals;
- conduct the Company’s business operations in accordance with assessments of all environmental, health and social risks, including efficiency in resource usage, prevention of pollution, and ensuring community health, safety and security;
- follow responsible hiring and employment practices such as payment of fair wages; providing appropriate insurance coverage; ensuring prohibition of child labour; providing equal treatment of men and women regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, age, caste, or sexual orientation; offering clean and safe working conditions; and
- comply with principles of applicable local and national laws; pledge not to accept or offer bribes including requiring employees to pledge to do the same; be transparent, ethical and accountable, including adhering to the principles of good corporate governance, in all business operations.
We’re confident that by focusing on both profits and values with companies that have been carefully-selected for their potential to deliver positive social impact to large BoP populations, we and our ecosystem partners will drive a wave of sustainable change that improves the lives of millions of people in India.