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Land Accelerator South Asia 2022 | Fireside Chat with Impact Investors

The past few years have seen rise of impact investing as an important pillar in funding sustainability or restoration-based start-ups. Creating a social value, impact investing seeks to add value to society as value creation for society and financial returns are equally important for impact investors.

In this niche sector, all investments are focused towards ‘what is the impact on environment, climate and our society’. This increasing awareness is channelizing more capital towards investments that contribute positively to a number of global challenges faced today, ranging from climate change, degraded farms and forests, to depletion of fertile soils and loss of biodiversity.

This fireside chat with impact investors India, organized for Land Accelerator South Asia cohort 2022 will bring out the key factors that investors look for in sustainability start-ups (particularly in the context of land restoration). This discussion will also focus on different types of capital available for these entrepreneurs and the best fundraising options available, at different growth stages of these start-ups.


Anuj Sharma, Founder Director, ALSiSAR Impact

Anuj is Founder Director of ALSiSAR Impact with over 18 years of experience in Impact investing, business strategy, international structuring, impact fund management and related fields. He is an active angel investor for social enterprises primarily in Frontier Markets with an active portfolio of ~21 startups.

He has worked in 16 countries with clients ranging from leading multinational corporations and SMEs to startups and non-profit entities. A founder of South Asia's first transaction advisory firm in impact investing in social enterprise landscape in 2008, Anuj has on largest number of impact investing transactions in last one decade galvanizing ~USD 1 billion in the space. ALSiSAR Impact has started South Asia's first frontier market incubation which has been a catalyst in bringing first time ever startup funding in geographies such as Kashmir, Nagaland and Sikkim. Anuj has conducted multiple workshops and sessions globally on various impact investing themes. His other engagements include visiting faculty in TISS, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur and IIT Mandi. He is mentor and speaker at Fashion4Good, Netherlands; VentureCup Denmark; MassChallange, Boston and Houston; Naropa Fellowship, Ladakh.

Maya Chandrasekaran, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Green Artha Innovation

Maya Chandrasekaran is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Green Artha Innovation - a climate innovation and investment firm. She also co-founded and continues to actively run the 200+ member Women in Investing network and is a mentor at several startups and impact groups including TechStars India and Sangam FLCTD.

Maya is an expert at scaling companies that change lives, both as an investor and in practice. As one of the founding members of Menterra Venture Advisors, she built the education and skilling investment practice. She was also a part of the founding leadership that scaled into India’s largest tech-enabled livelihoods platform, securing meaningful work for over 10 million people in just 7 years. Her prior experience includes being an early team member of Janalakshmi, one of India’s largest urban MFIs and working with Capvent Fund of Funds.

Priya Shah, General Partner, Theia Ventures

Priya is the General Partner of Theia Ventures, which is a seed stage fund in India investing in high impact, technology-enabled climate tech businesses operating across multiple sectors, such as energy efficiency, electric mobility, renewable energy access, biofuel/biogas, energy storage / carbon capture, battery tech, waste-to-value, smart protein and sustainable agriculture. Theia takes an active role in their portfolio companies, providing mentorship and value-added support across strategy, governance, product and fundraising, connecting them to their Venture Partner Network and other ecosystem partners.

Priya has spent 15 years working across the social impact, finance and policy sectors in the US, UK and Indian markets. Before Theia Ventures, she built as part of the founding team, the Indian Fund arm of Yunus Social Business (YSB), a global venture debt fund founded by Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus. Prior to YSB, Priya spearheaded strategy, capital raising and special projects at a clean-tech, venture-backed, growth-stage company, Simpa Networks. Priya started her career at Bloomberg LP in New York and later at Asia House in London, and has led several independent consulting projects at impact start-ups and advisory firms, such as Acumen and CDC group. She holds an MBA from Cambridge Judge Business School and a BA in History from Brown University.

Shalini Chhabra, Managing Partner, 3i Partners (Impact India Investment Partners)

Shalini is a seasoned banker with over two decades of experience in credit risk management. She has managed diverse portfolios including large corporate, inter-bank, SME, financial institutions including mutual funds and insurance, government / PSUs, and structured finance, including supply chain financing, factoring, securitisation, inter-bank participation, etc. She has also managed risk policy and processes, Basel Implementation and development of risk models for PD estimation for HDFC Bank.

She is supporting with 3i Partners, a Silicon Valley based impact fund with the objective of supporting enterprises looking to solve some of the most pressing challenges faced by India's lower-income millions. She is huge proponent of gender equality, and currently mentors young students with AFH (“Aspire for Her”), hoping to bring about the change in perspective and reduce, if not eliminate the various self-limiting reasons for success by women.

Sushant Bhatia, Business Head, Caspian Debt

Sushant is the business head for start-up and social enterprise lending at Caspian Debt, an impact focused specialised Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC). He leads the team for origination, due diligence, and relationship management across sectors like healthcare, education, food & agriculture, clean energy, sustainability and WASH.

Prior to joining Caspian Debt in 2016, Sushant worked as a Product Manager with Fincare Small Finance Bank where he helped set up the cross-sales vertical for financing solar lights, mobile phones, and pension for rural microfinance customers. He holds a Masters from the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and a B.Tech in Biotechnology from VIT, Vellore.

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