Upaya is proud to announce that it has come together with 3rd Creek Foundation (3CF) to provide a follow-on investment into Maitri Livelihood Services Private Limited (Maitri), a caregivers training and placement company that recruits, trains, and secures employment for women from vulnerable backgrounds in the East and Northeast communities of India.
The deal is notable as Tamul Plates is the only established producer of disposable tableware in the Northeast - a region with more than 100,000 hectares of arecanut under plantation and one of the poorest areas of the country.
“This investment is a recognition that Tamul Plates is well positioned to meet the growing demand for high quality, environmentally responsible, and ethically produced products,” said Tamul Plates CEO Arindam Dasgupta. “Working in the Northeast, the company benefits from a unique combination of access to the highest quality raw materials and a producer base that takes great pride in its craftsmanship,” said Dasgupta.
Tamul Plates produces and markets high-quality, all-natural disposable plates and bowls made from arecanut (palm) tree leaves and sells them under the “Tambul Leaf Plates” brand. The company’s clientele includes a mix of restaurants, fast food establishments, event managers, and direct-to-consumer retailers.
This investment follows a recent agreement between Tamul Plates and the Government of Assam to supply the equipment for and train an extended network of affiliate rural producers. The investment by Artha and Upaya will allow the Barpeta-based company to make use of that expanded affiliate producer network by diversifying its product line, expanding its domestic sales and distribution networks, and opening export markets for its products.
“It has been a highlight of the Artha Venture Challenge to uncover a pioneering and innovative enterprise in Tamul Plates,” said Artha Initiative’s Director Audrey Selian. “We are particularly happy to be co-investing with Upaya, and look forward to continued efforts in collaboration sector-wide through our AVC and ArthaPlatform.com programming,” said Selian. Artha Initiative is associated with Switzerland-based Rianta Capital Zurich.
Disposable arecanut dinnerware is hygienic, chemical-free, compostable, microwave safe - and in high demand among urban consumers around the world. The production and sale of natural arecanut dinnerware not only reduces the deforestation and pollution associated with the production of traditional disposable dishes, but also provides a viable livelihood to disadvantaged communities.
“Upaya has been very impressed by the work of Arindam and his team over the past year, and believe that the company’s growth plans will benefit both customers and producers alike,” said Upaya’s Director, Business Development Sreejith Nedumpully. “We are proud to join the Artha Initiative in backing this promising enterprise, and are exciting about the company’s potential,” said Nedumpully. Upaya was Tamul Plates’s first investor.
This co-investment in Tamul Plates is the first deal completed under the formalized collaboration framework between Artha and Upaya that was announced in November 2014. Per that agreement, the two organizations are working together to deploy seed capital to help SGBs scale and create employment for the poor, share best practices around sound financial management, and disseminate tools and training for the benefit of India's wider ecosystem.
Upaya Social Ventures and the Artha Initiative are proud to announce that they have formalized a collaboration through which they will work together to develop a pipeline of and co-invest in India’s Small and Growing Business (SGB) sector.
Together the two organizations will deploy seed capital to help these SGBs scale and create employment for the poor, share best practices around sound financial management, and disseminate tools and training for the benefit of India's wider SGB ecosystem.
“In order to promote entrepreneurship in India, the barriers to financial management skill development must be addressed and be paired with improved access to patient investment capital that best meets the entrepreneurs’ needs,” said Artha Initiative Director Audrey Selian. “This partnership does exactly that by improving the access to management resources and seed capital for the next great wave of Indian entrepreneurs,” said Selian.
Upaya and Artha have each found that when early stage entrepreneurs receive seed funding and have the resources to master basic financial management practices, their confidence greatly improves and they are far more likely to see a new venture through its tumultuous first year. By equipping entrepreneurs with financial management tools and a roadmap for their use, they have been able to reduce the risk and uncertainty inherent in a new venture and, in turn, attract follow-on debt and equity investment needed to grow the business.
Through this collaboration Upaya will share its tools and training materials for dissemination across Artha’s platforms and networks.
“Although a number of tools are already available, the uptake by entrepreneurs currently is minimal as most tools are geared towards later stage businesses,” said Upaya’s Executive Director Sachi Shenoy. “Entrepreneurs find the more general templates difficult to adapt to their specific business models,” said Shenoy.
In addition to sharing materials and best practices among the two organizations, Upaya will explore co-investments in job creating businesses that participate in the Artha Venture Challenge. Furthermore, Upaya will leverage the Artha Platform, an online community and website dedicated to building relationships between sector participants, to expand the pool of resources available to its partners as they continue to scale.
This is the second co-investment and tool-sharing partnership of its type for Upaya, following an announcement earlier this year of a similar collaboration with 3rd Creek Foundation.
Upaya Social Ventures and 3rd Creek Foundation (3CF) are proud to announce a collaboration through which both organizations will work together to identify, support the development of, and potentially co-invest in Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) that can create employment for India’s poor.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with 3rd Creek Foundation and strengthening the ecosystem for SGB innovation together,” said Upaya’s Executive Director Sachi Shenoy.
This is a new type of partnership model for Upaya, one that facilitates not just the exchange of ideas and best practices but also opens the door for co-investment in current and future Upaya partners.
“3CF and Upaya share a development philosophy that meaningful employment is key to achieving sustainable poverty alleviation,” said 3CF Executive Director Gwen Straley. “3CF hopes that this collaboration will encourage other foundations and impact investors to take a closer look at the potential that SGBs in emerging markets have to create long-lasting, positive change for those living in poverty,” said Straley.
“While Upaya is often the first investor in a company, we know we can’t do it alone,” said Shenoy, “and by having a channel for co-investment to take place, we can better ensure that early-stage ventures are set up for growth and success.”
3CFis a private family foundation dedicated to helping individuals achieve economic independence. Established in 2007 by Dave and Pam Straley, 3CF supports sustainable development initiatives through charitable grant-making to strong nonprofit partners in impoverished communities worldwide. The foundation seeks to put funds where they will go the farthest and improve the most lives and values projects that take a market-based approach to solving tough social problems. For more information, please visit http://3rdcreek.com/foundation.php and http://www.3rdcreekfoundationblog.org.