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Vineet Chandra Rai – Pioneer Impact Investor

By : Profectus Magazine   /   27 Dec 2021  /   Entrepreneur Story /   Success Story

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Journey of Pioneer Impact Investor Vineet Chandra Rai.

Founded Aavishkaar Group in 2001 with Seed capital of Rs.5000 and now manages assets in excess of US $ 1.2 Billion.

Born and brought up in Rajasthan and completed his schooling from Maheshwari Public School in Jaipur. Initially He wanted to join the Army but after the graduation in 1991, he started working as a Sales executive. 15 days in Job he realized that Sales Executive is not something that he wants to be and left that job.

He joined IIFM-Bhopal and passed out his Post Graduate Diploma in Forestry Management in 1994. He later got a job and was posted in deep forest of Orrisa for almost 3 years. He left that too after he got married and joined IIM Ahmedabad to do research. In 1997, Government of Gujarat was setting up incubator to help farmers convert their ideas into sustainable businesses. Vineet applied for the job of Manager and later he was appointed as the CEO of Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), an incubator for rural innovations and ventures based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Inception of Aavishkaar

While he was CEO of GIAN, He realized that there are lots of people in rural India seeking an opportunity but lack the funding and capital. So in 2001, using his household saving of 5000 rupees, Vineet started Aavishkaar as a venture fund for rural India. Gradually he established “IntelleCap” in 2002 to convince talented people to work in this sector.

He says, ‘I didn’t feel the struggle back then because I was completely focused on solving the problem. Now looking back to the time from where I am right now, I can feel that struggle. Things weren’t as advanced and accepting for startups back then. The period of 2001-2005 was a real struggle for me in terms of liquidity, house rent or petty cash. One person who suffered the most yet supported me in every aspect of my life was my wife, Swati Rai. She did all the things I was supposed to do. I used to travel 20-25 days a month at that time and she was the one looking after the family in my absence.

 
 
 

Conversation With Pioneer Impact Investor

Q – Thought on Emerging Startups and Unicorn in India.

The startup is a journey of excitement to solve a problem and unicorn is the outcome of that journey. Start-ups working on the real problem in India are making a huge success. Opportunities are emerging in every sector now, be it education, health, agriculture or technology. Everything is there in India’s startup ecosystem, when you have talent, solutions to a real problem, capital and a large local market there for you to scale. Once these four things come together any startups can get success. Currently in India, we are seeing the huge eruption in the state of startups. Startups have a large amount of capital flowing through, some people who are smart enough have turned it into a unicorn. Unicorn is not necessarily the milestone a startup should aim for, it’s just the output comes through the right execution. Actual definition of unicorn according to me is the ones who create sustainable companies, solves world problems, creates jobs and reduce risk in people’s life. I think it’s very important to underplay the idea of becoming a unicorn and overplay the values of being an entrepreneur.

Q – Factors Aavishkaar Group looks into before Investing.

Investment is very important, whether it will yield or not is another question but it’s important that the startup we are investing in solves problems that exist and benefits the world.
– Are you solving the real problem? If yes, then is your solution effective?
– Who are your competitors? And how does your solution differs?
– Who are you? and Who is on your team?
– How do you articulate or tell the story of the problem you’re solving with your vision?
– How flexible or rigid are you? And how much feedback are you willing to take?
– What kind of capital do you need?

Q – Aavishkaar’s Mission and Vision

Aavishkaar focuses to work with the people from the lower economic strata. There are 3 billion people worldwide who are economically active but do not necessarily receive much support. Our mission is to empower those 3 billion by 2025. Our main focus is on South East Asia and Africa, while we raise our capital from the US and Europe. Aavishkaar wants a create businesses with people from these areas and economic strata so they’re empowered and feel included.

2030 is very important for Aavishkaar group as we are aiming to grow our AUM to 12 billion dollars. Since our inception, we’ve grown from 100 dollars to 1.2 Billion in last two decade. Aiming 10X growth to 12 Billion in next decade is not an outstanding target, but it is a large target with a large pace. “IMPACT UNIOCORN” is what we believe would be ideal, if we reach there and impact a significant number of lives.

Q – Impact of Pandemic and Realization

Everything has a good and a bad aspect, even this pandemic. Some of our businesses suffered during the pandemic, mainly the microfinance suffered as people we lend money lost their jobs and their business struggled. This pandemic made a global change and made us all realize that the world is more complex than we see it. Pandemic was secular in a sense as it affected every person on this globe unpredictably. Rich realized that something is changing in the environment that can impact their capability of generating capital. Areas such as environment, climate, society, communities, and governance started getting focus. Pandemic brought in sharp focus on impact investing as a solution that would solve a real problem. There are 3 trillion dollars of capital and the world needs only 2.5 trillion dollars a year to be poverty-free & hunger-free. People with affluent money and power should utilize their resources to make the world a better place.

Q – Views on Government Support

For any economic activity to spread out, government role quite important along with their participation and their vision. The current government has the clear vision towards important aspects such as tinker labs, incubators, setting up accelerations, supporting venture funds and impact funds. They’re convincing a large pool of domestic capitals to participate with fund. This has allowed start-ups to evolve and large capitals to flow within.

WORDS OF WISDOM TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS

The first thing is to focus on the customer as they’re the only ones who would lead you to success. What your investors, family or colleagues wants is important but it’s negotiable. But what your customer wants is non- negotiable. If your customer is happy, you can become more than a unicorn, so always keep your customers happy! Once you get success, always remember to help others. Doing good to others will always bring good to you, like Karma!

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