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Philanthropy? Global Billionaires Turn to India
si Team
Monday, March 29, 2010
With an aim to empower the weaker sections of the country, a number of global billionaires are turning to philanthropy in India. Propelled by their surging economies, robust currencies, and globally competitive companies, the new breed of global billionaires are investing in the upliftment of those at the bottom of the country’s pyramid.

In his khadi jacket, sitting in a south Mumbai five star hotel, Jayant Sinha does not look any bit of the hedge fund manager that he was until a few months ago. As reported by reputed news daily today, as the India Head of Omidyar Network, Sinha is looking at various initiatives to improve the lot of those at the bottom of the pyramid in India. Omidyar Network, an investment firm of Pierre Omidyar (Founder of Ebay) has already invested around $45 million in India and is looking to invest around $150-200 million in the next couple of years.

“Philanthropic investors essentially look for providing financial assistance and empowering those innovative organizations that impact the life at the bottom of the pyramid,” according to Jayant Sinha, Managing Director and Country Head of Omidyar Network India Advisors. Omidyar Network has invested around $325 million globally in the US, Europe, and Africa. Most investments have come into India only in the past few years.

Others like him include the New Zealand billionaire Christopher Chandler’s Legatum Ventures, which has invested around $40 million in the past few years in the country. Even the investor George Soros is into philanthropic investments in India. These investors are investing in micro-finance institutions (MFIs), rural energy, education, and other areas of empowerment such as property rights.

Explaining the rationale behind seeking profits in social development-oriented investments, Sinha explains, “One can have huge economic returns and high social impact at the same time. Sometimes, one is also open to sub-par returns. But ultimately, investments are driven by right opportunity and right innovations. It’s a unique approach aimed at improving the base of the pyramid.”
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