Good Jobs | November 17, 2022

Upaya Social Ventures exits India-based maker of sustainable tableware

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, November 17 –  Upaya Social Ventures made a $27,000 equity investment in Tamul Plates in 2015, helping the all-natural disposable plate and bowl manufacturer triple its revenues, quadruple its production, and grow its workforce tenfold. The Seattle-based impact fund has sold its stake for more than double its investment to an unnamed family office in India.

Assam-based Tamul raised additional investment from Artha Impact, which first invested in the company alongside Upaya seven years ago.

Good jobs

Upaya launched in 2011 to fight extreme poverty in India by investing in companies that create dignified jobs. Tamul Plates employs more than 3,000 rural workers through community-owned micro-enterprises. Household incomes have increased more than 130% since workers joined Tamul; nearly 60% of the company’s workers are able to save regularly.

Tamul’s product, made from locally-abundant arecanut trees, is a sustainable alternative to styrofoam.

Missing middle

Upaya cuts equity and quasi-equity checks to small businesses in India that are  too big for microfinance and too small for banks. “Not only are companies like this vital to the economic well-being of their communities, they can produce investor returns as well as significant impact,” said Upaya’s Kate Cochran.

Tamul was a beneficiary of Upaya’s Covid relief funding, which “helped us weather the storm and save thousands of rural jobs,” said Tamul’s Arindam Dasgupta.