Asia | August 21, 2018

Brac and Osiris Group launch impact fund for Bangladesh and other frontier markets

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, August 20 – International development organization Brac and private equity firm Osiris Group are looking for emerging-market investment opportunities in education, healthcare, the digital economy, and improving access to goods and services.

Specifics such as target size, markets, deal size, have not been disclosed. The fund will likely focus on Brac and Osiris’ overlapping markets, particularly in Bangladesh, where Brac is headquartered.

For Brac, the impact fund represents the $140 million organization’s acceleration towards a market-based development approach.

“A new model for social change is emerging which challenges conventional development models that solely depend on philanthropic donations and charity,” Brac’s Asif Saleh said in a statement. “We are now in a world where the difference between development, social enterprise, and the private sector is narrowing, and we at BRAC see the importance of impact investment in the countries we operate in.”

Support for Brac-incubated social enterprises is already the organization’s second biggest focus area behind microfinance lending. Brac also holds equity stakes in several financial, insurance, housing, agriculture and technology companies. 

Hong Kong-based Osiris already calls itself an impact investor and invests in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It specifically targets opportunities that offer “risk-adjusted market returns while simultaneously making a difference in peoples lives,” and notes alignment between its investment areas and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Osiris appears to participate in early venture rounds of $10 million or less, based on the few investments that have been publicly disclosed. It backed motorcycle taxi hailing company Pathao’s $10 million venture round in April and mobile banking startup SureCash’s $7 million round in 2015. Both companies are based in Bangladesh.