The Impact Investor

Mukesh Sharma on investment in social enterprises that use the power of tech.

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Through Menterra Social Impact Fund, Mukesh Sharma invests in social enterprises that are using the power of technology, to improve the quality of farming, healthcare and education in India. He has 16 years of rich experience in start-up incubation, venture capital, impact investing, investment banking and finance. Earlier, he was the Chief Investment Officer at Villgro, India's oldest and foremost social enterprise incubator. Sharma is a Chartered Accountant and a CFA Charterholder. He has been a member on the Capital sub-committee of the Impact Investors Council of India. Menterra Social Impact Fund 1 has at least eight companies that show tremendous potential. Talking about his investment philosophy he says, "We have invested close to US$3m in these companies and helped unlock US$2m in debt funding through our network. Each of these companies are on course to be larger than our fund in terms of revenue and to deliver on our promise of Impacting India while delivering market returns." Three of the most advanced in terms of revenue traction are:

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Mukesh Sharma Co-founder & Managing Director, Menterra Venture Advisors

1. Biosense is using cutting-edge IoT products with focus on India's twin challenges, malnutrition and diabetes. All devices have cloud connectivity with geo tagging that provide accurate data for more targeted health interventions. With over 10 million tests, Biosense has made access to basic diagnostics possible for some of India's poorest, in diverse geographies including the hilly regions of Ladakh, desert districts of Rajasthan and tribal areas of Maharashtra. Biosense was identified by their incubator partner Villgro at an idea stage. They incubated and provided intense operating support to Biosense for five years. This partnership from idea to scale journey resulted in Menterra making an equity investment in Biosense in 2016.

2. FarmFolks works with small farmers and retail partners to deliver fresh, certified, high quality fruits and vegetables to consumers. They help the farmers through training on globally accepted agronomic practices and ensure a fair price for their certified produce. Through fair and transparent market access, direct procurement at the farm-gate and elimination of non-value adding intermediaries, Farm Folks can provide tremendous value to the farmers and retail partners. Menterra's agriculture team undertook a detailed research to identify companies providing better market linkage, higher yield and income to small farmers. As part of this exercise, they identified Farm Folks for equity investment. The team conducted several field visits to validate the investment and impact thesis before Menterra investment.

3. Chrysalis is focused on bringing a holistic change in the current education system to deliver better learning outcomes starting from early-learning years. It acts as a core curriculum provider and academic partner with innovative pedagogy that develops creative and critical thinking. Chrysalis is currently present in 11 states, in 500+ schools with 250,000 students. Chrysalis was introduced to them by an impact focused ed-tech consulting firm. Menterra partnered with Chrysalis to deliver a difficult trinity of learning outcomes, sound economic fundamentals and access to underprivileged students.

(This article was first published in the July 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)