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June 24, 2019

The Rise Fund Invests in Frontier Markets, Distribution Platform for the Last Mile Consumer

Investment comes via partnership with Echoing Green announced in 2018

The Rise Fund, a global impact investment fund managed by TPG, today announced an investment in Frontier Markets, a technology-enabled last mile distribution platform. Frontier Markets is centered around a mobile workforce of female entrepreneurs and is delivering clean energy solutions and other consumer goods in rural India. The investment was made through The Rise Fund as a result of its partnership with Echoing Green.

Frontier Markets has been in operations since 2011 driving access to clean energy solutions to invest in 450 MN rural consumers of India. With a mission of investing in rural economies, Frontier Markets has built a proven and scalable model with a network of 5,000 entrepreneurs – 50% of them women – called Solar Sahelis that are trained on accessing technology, marketing, and technical repair, and sell innovative clean energy solutions and other high impact consumer durables to help address rural household’s challenges. Over the years, Frontier Markets has successfully delivered 700,000+ solutions in solar lighting, energy efficient appliances, mobile devices, and more to 500K households in Rajasthan. Frontier Markets has been driving a customer-first lens to address rural household’s challenges in safety, productivity, and aspiration. Solar Sahelis are the leading, trusted, service providers earning over $3 MN of income and reinvesting their wealth in their daughters' education and well-being. Frontier Markets has introduced innovative products by investing in Indian manufacturers, and partnering with leading corporate partners like Unilever, Philips, JIO and more.

“Frontier Markets spent years learning the ins and outs of rural distribution, and understanding the rural consumer to be prepared for leveraging technology to scale throughout India, which will help us become the first all-inclusive market place for rural consumers with women at the center of the value chain,” said Ajaita Shah, founder and CEO of Frontier Markets. “This investment will allow FM to invest in a technology platform to leverage data to deliver a wider range of products and services in energy, finance, connectivity, agriculture and more to the last mile consumer.” 

This investment is co-lead by ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies, ENGIE Global utility’s corporate impact investment fund, along with Acumen Fund with the support of Unilever, Teja Ventures, and Rianta Capital. The investment in Frontier Markets’ technology platform will make it the first women-led rural market access company serving rural consumers while simultaneously leveraging a network of digital rural women entrepreneurs. This investment will also help broaden Frontier Market’s expansion from Rajasthan to 3 new states in India (UP, Bihar, Odissa) and expand their network to reach 10,000 entrepreneurs, 1 million new customers, and introduce new products in partnership with companies like Unilever and Samsung.

This investment is part of a partnership launched by The Rise Fund and Echoing Green, a nonprofit organization with a 32-year track record of investing in early-stage social entrepreneurs. Ajaita Shah, the founder of Frontier Markets, was awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship in 2012, receiving investment and two years of fellowship support from the organization to launch her organization.

“Echoing Green was an early investor in Ajaita Shah and Frontier Markets, and we have always believed in Ajaita’s leadership and passion,” said Cheryl L. Dorsey, president of Echoing Green. “Today’s investment is a powerful example of the scale and impact potential that is possible when you back incredible social entrepreneurs early, and give them the seed capital to get their ideas off the ground.”

About The Rise Fund

The Rise Fund is a global investment fund committed to achieving measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns. The Rise Fund is managed by alternative asset firm TPG and is led by a group of influential thought leaders with a deep personal and professional commitment to driving social and environmental progress. The Rise Fund Founders Board includes: Bono, Jeff Skoll, Mo Ibrahim, Laurene Powell Jobs, Anand Mahindra, Pierre Omidyar, Richard Branson, and others. The Rise Fund’s objectives align with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Rise Fund invests in education, energy, food and agriculture, financial services, growth infrastructure, healthcare, technology, media and telecommunications companies that deliver complete returns. For more information, visit www.therisefund.com.

About Echoing Green

For more than 30 years, Echoing Green has been on the front lines of solving the world’s biggest problems, raising up the transformational leaders willing to speak truth to power and challenge the status quo. The organization finds emerging leaders with the best ideas for social innovation as early as possible, and sets them on a path to lifelong impact. Echoing Green's community of nearly 1,000 social innovators includes past Fellows like First Lady Michelle Obama, the founders of organizations like Teach For America and One Acre Fund, and public figures like Van Jones. Built and refined over three decades, Echoing Green discovers tomorrow’s leaders, today, and then funds, connects, and supports a new generation of social impact leaders. More information: www.echoinggreen.org

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