For Acumen Fund, ROI = Profits + Social Impact

The New York based Acumen Fund is a non-profit venture fund that invests in businesses that have a social and economic impact. It will invest in companies providing affordable, critical goods and services in sectors such as health, water, housing and energy. The geographies it focuses on are South Asia and East Africa, besides the US. Since it set up shop in India a couple of years ago, the fund has made equity investments in Kochi based ayurvedic chain, Ayur Vaid Hopsitals, Hyderabad-based LifeSpring Hospitals, Mumbai-based ambulance start-up service ‘Dial 1298 For Ambulance’, and Drishtee, a rural communications company. Acumen does not believe in a profit maximisation model and would invest only in businesses that benefit people socially.

They generally don’t invest at the idea stage, and also try and stay away from pure technology plays. They want to diversify into agriculture and nutrition in India and are scouting for investments in these sectors. They typically invest between $500K-$2 million in companies. Being a non-profit venture fund, it is often dificult to find companies catering to low income markets and matching the requirements of the fund, Varun Sahni, India portflio Director, Acumen Fund India, said in an interview to VC Circle. Prior to Acumen, Sahni has worked with both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations focusing on enterprise creation across India. He has also been an angel investor in a number of companies in the hospitality aervices, food and beverage sectors. Excerpts: The New York based Acumen Fund is a non-profit venture fund that invests in businesses that have a social and economic impact. It will invest in companies providing affordable, critical goods and services in sectors such as health, water, housing and energy. The geographies it focuses on are South Asia and East Africa, besides the US. Since it set up shop in India a couple of years ago, the fund has made equity investments in Kochi based ayurvedic chain, Ayur Vaid Hopsitals, Hyderabad-based LifeSpring Hospitals, Mumbai-based ambulance start-up service ‘Dial 1298 For Ambulance’, and Drishtee, a rural communications company. Acumen does not believe in a profit maximisation model and would invest only in businesses that benefit people socially.

They generally don’t invest at the idea stage, and also try and stay away from pure technology plays. They want to diversify into agriculture and nutrition in India and are scouting for investments in these sectors. They typically invest between $500K-$2 million in companies. Being a non-profit venture fund, it is often dificult to find companies catering to low income markets and matching the requirements of the fund, Varun Sahni, India portflio Director, Acumen Fund India, said in an interview to VC Circle. Prior to Acumen, Sahni has worked with both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations focusing on enterprise creation across India. He has also been an angel investor in a number of companies in the hospitality aervices, food and beverage sectors.

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