Upaya extends debt to partners in India for the first time

Upaya Social Ventures has made 10 equity investments into Indian-based businesses employing the very poorest but until now, has not been able to extend debt due to regulatory restrictions. For the first time, in August of 2016, we have been able to structure small loan agreements with our partners to provide working capital assistance as they grow their businesses.

Parvata Foods

Parvata Foods

The first partner to receive debt from Upaya is Parvata Foods. Parvata aims to eliminate middle-men in the agricultural value chain so that poor farmers can keep more of their profit. Founded by Siddhi Karnani and Anurag Agarwal, their particular focus is to process and market the organic products from the state of Sikkim in northeastern India, which was recently declared the first fully organic state in the country. They source their products—currently spices and squash— from about 100 farmers with one to two acres of land who previously earned about $0.75 to $1.50 per day per person. Upaya has extended a two-year loan to Parvata and may make an equity investment in the future.

The second partner to receive an Upaya debt investment is Karmantik, a Delhi-based enterprise that aims to revive artisanal hand-crafted shoes. Founded in 2015  by Sruthi Niveditha Kande and Apoorva Kamath, who are alumni of the Young India Fellowship Program of Ashoka University. "Upaya came in at a time when we needed support to push ourselves forward, and for that we are very grateful," according to Kande.

Karmantik artisan

Karmantik artisan

Upaya Teams Up With LAF: Creative Venture Fund To Bring Employment Opportunities to Vulnerable Youth

Upaya and LAF: Creative Venture Fund (LAF:CVF) have come together to build skills and create thousands of jobs for young women and men living in India’s poorest communities. Through this partnership, Upaya and LAF:CVF will identify, invest in, and provide business development support to promising early-stage ventures with significant youth employment potential via Upaya’s LiftUP Project initiative.

Together, the two organizations will work to support multiple new ventures and create significant new employment opportunities across India.

LAF:CVF is a venture philanthropy fund that invests in employment and empowerment initiatives that provide vulnerable youth around the world with the means to create a better life for themselves. This partnership lays the groundwork for LAF:CVF to make its first investments in India following similar efforts in Haiti and Kenya. 

“Not enough organizations are focused on giving youth opportunities to build critical life and job skills while also ensuring they have the opportunity to utilize those skills to earn a viable living,” said LAF:CVF Executive Director Kate Genereux. “Sachi and her team have an incredible track record of providing critical financial and advisory support to promising entrepreneurs who have, in turn, become large scale employers of young people in their areas,” said Genereux.   

Upaya’s flagship program, the Life-Changing Interventions for the Ultra Poor (LiftUP) Project incubates early-stage enterprises in low-income communities by combining patient seed equity funding with hands-on financial management support. Upaya’s goal is to help each enterprise reach financial stability, scale, and become a significant local employer.

From our initial conversations it was clear that LAF:CVF leadership shared Upaya’s vision of poverty alleviation and youth empowerment through employment.  We are thrilled to translate that philosophy into action and help young men and women from poor communities earn a stable, dignified living.”