Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has invested in the Unitus Seed Fund, a venture capital fund designed to help entrepreneurs in India get new ventures off the ground.
The USF invests in Indian startups via two funds: Unitus Seed Fund India, and Unitus Seed Fund, LP, an offshore venture capital fund.
Gates personally invested in the Unitus Seed Fund, LP, and the exact amount is undisclosed. A number of other high-profile Seattle-area execs have already put money toward the fund, including Amazon SVP Diego Piacentini, Concur CEO Steve Singh, and Microsoft veterans like Soma Somasegar and Bharat Shah. Others like Vinod Khosla and Desh Deshpande have also invested.
“Impact investing is a powerful model with the potential to build markets and drive change for the people who need it most,” Gates said in a statement.
The USF also announced another $4 million from high net-worth Indian investors that will go toward the Unitus Seed Fund India.
The fresh cash gives the fund more than $20 million, which will be used to invest in more early-stage startups based India — USF currently has 14 in its portfolio — and find entrepreneurs from around the country.
“The investments in Unitus from very high net worth individuals who are well known for their philanthropy shows that these business leaders now believe you can make good money while at the same time making a positive impact on the low-income populations of the world,” USF co-founder Will Poole said this morning.
Poole, a former Microsoft vice president, started USF with former RealNetworks Vice President Dave Richards in 2012. Based in Seattle and Bangalore, India, the organization focuses on companies that it calls “Bottom of the Pyramid” startups — meaning those looking to develop consumer-oriented services that help low-income people. Indian startups that have already received funds include AddressHealth, Hippocampus Learning Centres and Milaap Social Ventures.