Huffington Post – Making Better Livelihoods for the Global Poor an Investable Proposition

Posted on February 25, 2016 by Patamar Capital — There are 18 million smallholder farmers in Indonesia with monthly incomes of less than 200,000 rupiah, or $58. Vasham, a social enterprise in Jakarta that provide financing, expertise and a guaranteed above-market price for their crops, serves 1,708 of them.

That counts as proof-of-concept that Vasham can both raise farmers’ income and turn a profit. Add a dedicated entrepreneur, a “closed loop” business model and a plan for serving 200,000 Indonesia farmers by 2018 and one million by 2023, and PT Vasham Kosa Sejahtera, as it is formally known, was able to attract seed-stage financing, including from the new Unitus Impact Fund, which typically invests between $500,000 and $2 million.

The Vasham investment is the 10th deal for the Unitus Impact Fund, which has just closed the fundraising for its first fund, the $45 million Livelihood Impact Fund. That makes Unitus Impact one of the largest private equity funds focused specifically on improving livelihoods of the global poor and one of the few to target early-stage companies. Unitus Impact is also part of the small but growing venture-capital ecosystems in countries like Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.

Beau Seil, Unitus Impact’s managing director, said Vasham is a good example of what Unitus is looking for: supply chain improvements that lower costs, raise productivity and quality, and generate premium prices for producers; and distribution improvements that provide high-value, affordables services for low-income workers. Vasham, based in Jakarta, provides fair-market loans so farmers can plant and guarantees offtake at above-market prices.

“We see significant income benefits when farmers are not caught in the company-store cycle,” Seil said in an interview. “We think supply chains and distribution chains are broken and that means there are economic inefficiencies keeping people from making more money.”

Read the full article on the Huffington Post.

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