Mohandas Pai, founder of one of India’s largest tech companies, Infosys, and Chairman of Aarin Capital Partners. He is also a founding investor in the Unitus Ventures (USF). The interview below is republished from a 4 January 2013 post by SOCAP that covered the USF announcement of $8M raised for seed stage investments in startups focused on serving customers at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BoP).
Mr. Pai argues that social enterprises with a solid for-profit motive are what are needed to “tackle” India’s biggest challenges.
[accordion_title]Q: Very few venture funds in India are making seed-level investments outside of the tech space. Why is seed-stage investing important for companies targeting the BOP? [/accordion_title]
[accordion_content]India’s biggest challenges are in the BOP. Government-led solutions have failed to address this fully over the last 65 years due to bad design, inadequate execution and corruption. The trickle down impact has been poor. There is also a tremendous business opportunity in BOP for business enterprises but they lack the architecture to do this. It is time to have new engines of execution and therefore market mechanisms in the form of social enterprises, many with a profit motive, that’s what is needed to tackle this. So seed-stage enterprises which will try new models are important for society and for companies targeting the BOP.[/accordion_content]
[accordion_title]Q: Why are you co-investing with Unitus Ventures? What’s unique or different about their approach?[/accordion_title]
[accordion_content]Unitus Ventures has a great team, with a clear vision. They are committed and understand this area. They also have a sufficiently long-term plan. Their investment philosophy is based on impact and focus.[/accordion_content]
[accordion_title]Q: With 800 million living at the “base of the pyramid” in India, do you think a few dozen startups will make a difference?[/accordion_title]
[accordion_content]Well, they will show the way, and hopefully become role models for many others. We need many hundreds of such startups considering the size of the market and population.[/accordion_content]
Click below to read more about USF’s other founding investors.