Building socially responsible businesses.
Baring India’s portfolio selection is consciously sensitive to the ultimate value generation for the society, be it employment opportunity creation, empowerment of women, green energy or sustainable development in general.
Since inception, Baring India has built and scaled profitable and sustainable enterprises which have had a high social and environmental impact. We have backed entrepreneurs who help address the many challenges of access, affordability and livelihood plaguing the demographic “bottom of the pyramid” in India. Our investment into portfolio companies has been instrumental in creating ~70,000 new jobs across India (nearly 60,000 of which are in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities), thereby providing a source of income to over 150,000 households directly and many more indirectly. Life to date, Baring India has supported over 30 first generation entrepreneurs through our Fund investments.
Notably, Baring is the first PE fund to invest in clean energy in India and 100% of our portfolio companies are ESG compliant. Over the last 20 years, 74% of capital invested by Baring in India has been in sectors with high job creation potential, with increasing investment opportunities in less developed states. Additionally, we liaise with regulators and key decision makers to advocate for policy changes that create economic incentives and encourage an environment where entrepreneurship and innovation can thrive. As an interesting side-note, typically 50% of the employees working in Baring have been women, which speaks volumes about diversity inclusion initiatives at the firm-level.
A few examples from past investments are listed below.
Shilpa Medicare is a pharmaceutical company with a mission of affordable healthcare for all strata of the society, at high quality standards.
Their headquarters and manufacturing plants are located in Raichur, Karnataka – one of the country's most backward districts (as per Ministry of Panchayati Raj). It is one of the five districts in Karnataka currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF). Given the backward status and the poor socio-economic profile of the locals, Shilpa Medicare is a key employment generator in the area.
Besides, they are also conscious about reducing environmental impact through conservative usage of energy, optimal waste management and waste water/air emission treatment facilities. Out of the total site area in their facilities, 25% comes under the green belt. In recognition of their efforts, they have been awarded the National Energy Conservation Award (2012) from the President of India.
Set up in 2005, biotechnology player ReaMetrix aims to locally invent, develop & deploy sophisticated diagnostics. Thier locally developed Tri-T Stat is the first such reagent in the HIV testing line which will bring down the testing costs to about 1/10th of current price to patient. It will also tell HIV-positive patients when to go slow on medication, and thereby save the cost of the drug and its side-effects. Moreover, these reagents are based on “flow-cytometry” technology, are dry format and pre-formulated, making them free from cold chain and human error respectively – unqualified necessities in Indian conditions.
The company has identified more disease areas where the same concept can be applied e.g. detecting proteins related to diseases like Malaria, TB, Dengue, Measles or analyzing inflammatory diseases, cancers & diabetes. Its next product, a new in-vitro diagnostic platform or lab-in-a-box (weighing less than 10 kg) is designed to run 80% of any high-end pathology lab – this promises the potential to take life-saving tests to patients in remote locations. Lack of indigenous manufacturing capabilities has restricted penetration of such tests. The founder, Mr. Bala S Manian is driven by one principle - "More than the economics of it, it is about the quality of life of an AIDS patient; so that he may die with AIDS rather than of it."
Gold Loan NBFCs like Manappuram form an important choice for Indian households who still do not have access to organized financing – this is a whopping 2/3rds of our population. Since banks cannot sustain their high cost of operations in these rural/ semi-urban areas, most people in the low to mid income segment fall prey to money-lenders who lend at exorbitantly high rates (3-10% interest rate a month).
On the other hand, Gold Loan financiers like Manappuram have the widest reach – their combined branch network of ~7,500 is second only to the State Bank of India – and they provide access to a gold-loan within matter of minutes. Manappuram Finance offers flexible product options, 3500+ neighborhood branches in customer catchments and high security storage vaults. In terms of savings instruments, Indian households allocate the largest share to mortgages and gold, given high inflationary pressures in India. With this backdrop, gold loan financing in India has significant untapped potential. Later, Manappuram has also entered into microfinance and housing finance.
Indeed, well before it became mandatory in 2013, Manappuram was active in the CSR sphere out of commitment to its own core values and has been funding and managing grassroots programmes in healthcare, education, empowerment of women, and charity. From a diversity inclusion perspective, women employees form 40% of their workforce, making them one of the most gender-balanced NBFCs of the country. Likewise, the subsidiary Asirvad Microfinance has reached a milestone of offering micro-finance to over 4.5 lakh women.
Auro Mira Energy
Baring pioneered private equity investment in renewable power in India back in early 2006. The Fund started Auro Mira and put together a team and invested in a platform that was engaged in biomass, small hydro and wind sectors with four operational plants. Through its operations, Auro Mira was responsible for:
Providing a reliable source of income to local rural community out of their waste products.
Bridging the severe power deficit in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Making India more energy independent and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Providing employment to local people during construction and during operation.
Auro Mira followed the best practices for worker health and safety, waste discharged and emissions from its operational projects and general well-being of the nearby communities. Major improvements were also made towards sourcing of raw materials for Biomass:
Contract farming of Subabul.
Identification of several new raw materials and several sources for the same raw materials.
Extensive QA/QC checks with thorough documentation.
Continuous innovation in fuel mix to increase efficiencies.
Sphaera Pharma is engaged in integrated drug discovery and development, with its facility in India and headquarters in Singapore. The company aims to develop novel therapies for the so-called “diseases of poverty” in the tropics like malaria, tuberculosis, perinatal and, diarrheal conditions. As highlighted by the activist movement around the 10/90 gap - only 10% of global health research is devoted to these health conditions, although they account for 90% of the global disease burden.
TB now annually causes more deaths worldwide than HIV; nearly 1.5 million people died from the disease last year, including 140,000 children. While TB can now be treated with a combination of drugs for at least six months, currently there is no satisfactory & effective treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) – it is treated with other sets of drugs that make treatment longer, more toxic and more expensive. Saphera is involved in the development of a new drug to treat MDR-TB, which, if successful, will help save an estimated 200,000 deaths due to MDR-TB annually.
Additionally, Sphaera is also developing a drug to address neuropathic pain, for which there is currently no effective treatment. Among other use-cases, this will address the needs of a vast number of diabetes patients in India (~70 million confirmed diabetes cases and another 30 million pre-diabetes cases). The Company has also developed a class of compounds for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread from the place where it first started to another place in the body).
Baring was the first Fund in India to recognize the potential of the BPO sector as an engine for large-scale job creation & generation of employment opportunities – today, the sector employs over 400,000 people in the country. In 2000, a power-house in the IT solutions space was created by integrating BFL and Mphasis, creating a major software player globally.
BFL Software was a leading player in the software export market, while Mphasis operated in the financial solutions space. MSource soon separated out as the the fast-growing BPO operations susbsidiary of Mphasis, and soon grew rapidly to 43,000+ employees, quickly acquiring nine Fortune 500 (U.S.) and three FTSE 100 (U.K.) clients. It later merged into the parent Mphasis.