The large-scale shift to telework brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting businesses around the world to explore new avenues to engage with clients and friends. Harris Bricken is no exception, and we are happy to provide this podcast series: Global Law and Business, hosted by international attorneys Fred Rocafort and Jonathan Bench.

In Episode #34, we are joined by Uday Garg,  Managing Partner at Mandala Capital, a private equity firm focused on long term and sustainable investments across the food value chain in India and Southeast Asia. We discuss:

  • The basics of food and agriculture (“agri”) investing and why it is helpful to analogize to the oil and gas business.
  • Why food and agri investment makes sense in Southeast Asia and India, from both a demand and supply perspective.
  • The $2,000 per capita GDP threshold as a good indicator for consumption spikes in emerging nations.
  • Mandala Capital’s strategy for investing in food and agri.
  • Why so much investment goes into agritech and whether agritech is really a new investment area.
  • What cannabis (especially hemp) is doing to the US and global market and why seed companies and branding companies are most likely to emerge as major players.
  • Impact investing and calculating an SROI (social return on investment).
  • Reading, listening, and watching recommendations from:

We’ll see you next week when we sit down to discuss sustainable health and wellness with Lingling Zhang.

If you have comments on this episode or if you’d like to suggest topics for future episodes, please email globallawbiz [at] harrisbricken [dot] com.

And please follow Fred and Jonathan on social media to stay informed on upcoming guests and topics:

This podcast audio has been transcribed by an automatic transcriber.

Fred Rocafort  0:08 

Global law and global business go hand in hand, but never seem to keep pace with each other. The importance on the global stage of developing and developed nations waxes and wanes, while consumption and interconnectedness steadily increase all the while laws and regulations change incessantly requiring businesses to stay nimble. But how do we make sense of it all? Welcome to Global Law and Business hosted by Harris Bricken International Business attorneys. I’m Fred Rocafort.

 

Jonathan Bench  0:37 

And I’m Jonathan Bench. Every week, we take a targeted look at legal and economic developments in locales around the world as we try to decipher global trends in law and business with the help of international experts. We cover continents, countries, regimes, governance, finance, legal developments, and whatever is trending on Twitter. We covered the important the seemingly unimportant, the relatively simple and the complex.

 

Fred Rocafort  1:02 

We hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. Please connect with us on social media to comment and suggest future topics and guests.

 

Jonathan Bench  1:21 

Uday Garg founded Mandala Capital in 2008, and has since been dedicated exclusively to developing the business with a focus on the food and agribusiness sector. Since the firm’s inception, he has been involved in all areas of the business and it was instrumental in developing its strategy and division, as well as raising the current funds under management. Uday sits on the board of portfolio companies and manages the relationships with the firm’s partners and stockholders. Prior to Mandala capital, Uday worked at Ultima Partners in London, focusing on private investments in global emerging markets across sectors including agribusiness. He began his career in the investment banking division of Deutsche Bank New York, followed by Portfolio Manager roles at Amaranthe Advisors in Connecticut and Duet Group in London. He holds a BS in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in finance. Today, welcome to Harris Bricken, Global Law and Business.

 

Uday Garg  2:17 

Thanks for having me, guys.

 

Fred Rocafort  2:19 

Uday, let’s get things started by having you answer a simple question, what is food and agribusiness investing?

 

Uday Garg  2:26 

I think this is a good question to start with, because a lot of people read a lot of interesting stuff about food and agriculture. And maybe the details get lost into what really it means. And I think that the simplest way to think about food and agriculture investing is to first try to picture the value chain from inputs all the way to the to the retail part of the consumer product. So you can take any any product, you can take milk, you can take chicken, you can take sugar, so it all starts with the farm. And what goes into the farm is a bunch of inputs. There’s a farmer involved, and there’s land involved. All of those are investable. And then when that’s grown, then it gets processed. And all of that is investable, the processing capacity. And then it goes through a logistic system and then it gets finished into a final product. And that’s an investable product. If you if you break down the value chain quite simply in the food and agri space, you know you have upstream midstream, downstream. And when we when we speak to people, investors especially we try to relate it to oil and gas even though it’s a little bit more complex, but people tend to know the oil and gas industry a lot better. And so if you look at upstream, midstream downstream and break down the entire chain into these three buckets, it makes it a little bit easier to understand where the different economics and value chains are. The other important way to think about food and agri is that every product has a different upstream midstream downstream are different value chain, and just too complicated. Further, different countries in different geographies have different value chains for different products. So maybe an example would help if you take the dairy industry and in the US, that’s a very integrated industry, which means you have integration from dairy farmers all the way to the final product. So when you buy milk off the shelf, that company is selling you that milk product is sourcing straight from the farm and handling the product all the way through. Whereas if you looked at the dairy business in a place like India, actually the farmer is completely independent. The processor is sometimes also completely independent. And then the company selling you the milk is just a branded company marketing the product. And so I think just to summarize, understanding the entire value chain upstream, midstream downstream making sure there is an appreciation for different geographies and different value chains and how they behave and what sort of that that is Understood, only then can people start thinking about Okay, where do I want to be in this value chain? Where can I maximize my time?

 

Jonathan Bench  5:08 

So you are currently based in Singapore? Is that right?

 

Uday Garg  5:11 

That’s right.

 

Jonathan Bench  5:12 

And so your focus, Mandala, at least your focus within Mandala is in Southeast Asia? Do you have people spread around the region? Where does everyone sit? And does your focus differ from others within within the group?

 

Uday Garg  5:25 

Yeah. So we we focus on India and Southeast Asia, the investing team is really split into a core investment team, which is guys with with investing experience in finance, and then an operating team or what we call sector specialists. And the sector specialists are guys with, you know, 20-30 years of operating experience in companies. And while our investment team tends to be sitting together in Singapore, and Mumbai, the sector specialist team is much, much more spread out and more in country. We’ve got sector specialists in in the Philippines and Indonesia, in India, in Vietnam, and so they help us more on the ground, post investment or even looking for deals.

 

Jonathan Bench  6:09 

So why did you decide to invest in food and agri? And then why, particularly in India and Southeast Asia, how does that region compare with the rest of the world? I mean, I know, just from a straight human capital standpoint, and in consumer standpoint, I mean, that’s a massive part of the world’s population. It’s a big gravity center. So I would think that, you know, intellectually, I could figure out some reasons why, but I’d love to hear it from your point of view.

 

Uday Garg  6:33 

Yeah, I think it’s actually it’s quite basic, in some ways, is to keep it simple. You know, I think of it as supply demand and supply demand imbalances. If you look at demand, which is what you alluded to, which, which I think most people know, there’s the biggest population in that region, if you combine India, Southeast Asia, you know, you’re, you’re more than a third of the population think you’ve got rising GDP per capita, you’ve got, you know, big middle class, you’ve got a huge number of young people so so there’s no doubt that the demand in that region is tremendous. And going to keep growing. And maybe, maybe the real detail point there is that the data has shown that when GDP per capita crosses a certain threshold, and $2,000 per capita is one of the threshold, you see a real exponential spike in things like protein consumption, reduced carbohydrate consumption, you know, more and more focused on health and nutrition, and so on and so forth. And so that that demand spike is, is really going to be significant. And we kind of saw that in China, if you if you look back 20 years ago, so the demand side is one, I think the supply side is one that is not well understood at all, by most people. And part of it is because a country like India would consume today most of the food that is actually producing, but but to give you a sense of supply, then just just looking at India alone in India is a top three producer of most fruits and vegetables in the world. So it’s it’s about 2015 to 20% of the world’s fruits and vegetables are grown in India. It’s a top three producer of rice, wheat, soy, cotton, you know, sugar, it’s number two in sugar, sugar cane, so you can kind of it’s number one in dairy, Scott, the largest coastline for seafood. So it’s this massive powerhouse of food production, but exports almost nothing because it’s all consumed locally. And then we get to the demand and supply demand imbalance. So despite being such a big producer and such a big consumer, it’s also one of the most inefficient producers of food. Some of this translates also into Southeast Asia, especially places like Vietnam and Philippines. And so the inefficiency is down to low productivity. So there’s people that are not using the latest technology in seeds and fertilizers and irrigation and so on and in wastage. So poor infrastructure leads to huge a lot of wastage. So in India, 30% of all fresh food is wasted, just because of poor infrastructure, which is, which is tremendous, given how big the supply is. So if you take some of those very high level, you know, data points, this becomes really compelling as a as a theme. And then I would just, you know, add, maybe there’s layers of sort of, you know, decision making, you know, why, why someone would do this and maybe just to go one layer deeper is the sector remains largely in private hands across India and Southeast Asia. Whereas if you if you looked at some of the more developed economies, you could name some of the big ag guys, right, everyone kind of knows, you know, Archer Daniels and the Blue Jays and maybe even the National AIDS which are integrated backward. But if you look at India, Southeast Asia, you know, you’d be hard pressed to name more than one or two companies that that are really dominating the agri space. And again,you look at the China story and how you’ve got out of the top 10 that global agri companies now you know, China has three or four in them. They are the largest feed manufacturers now they’re buying they bought Tyson, as you know, in the US big poultry business, and they bought Syngenta, a Chinese company called Syngenta, which is a big Seed Company. So I do think, you know, maybe it’s more of a passion that we feel in India and Southeast Asia, we want to help find and create the next sort of natural age and the next champions in the food and agri space.

 

Jonathan Bench  10:30

And you have some family history in agribusiness, right?

Uday Garg 10:33

That’s right.

Jonathan Bench  10:34

Was it your grandfather, who had a prominent Seed Company in India?

 

Uday Garg  10:39 

That’s right, and the Seed Company is still around. And it’s now you know, expanded internationally as well. And it’s being managed by my cousins who are a third generation. And, you know, it’s an important point, because really, my grandfather, when he founded the business, you know, he founded it with certain principles and certain goals, profit was not the only motive. And so he did it to really help the farmers and to solve some real problems that business is, you know, a family business. So I’ve seen how it’s developed, that business took in Monsanto as a minority shareholder, I think, almost 20 years ago, and sort of just being around all of that has really been helpful for us at Mandala because essentially, we’re doing similar stuff, we’re working with family businesses, we’re coming in as an outside investor, you know, most of us investor backed investor. So it’s really been great from different perspectives, to help understand food and agri to have understanding of family businesses and what they go through, especially second third generations running these businesses, and then just generally getting a good feel for for the sector and how to invest.

 

Fred Rocafort  11:48 

So this is actually a great segue into Mandala’s own strategies for for investing. What are the guiding principles that it has? I mean, clearly, there there is a an influence that this family history has, but it would it would be, perhaps you can you can flesh that out a little bit how exactly the US does that background and that experience, translate into the current objectives?

 

Uday Garg  12:19 

Yeah, so you know, our, our strategy, and our approach to investing is, is in some ways, constantly evolving. And so we every time we sit down and put our strategy on paper, you know, I feel, you know, we tweak it constantly, because we get new information, we learn new things. And so, really, we call it constant evolution in our strategy. We we have a playbook. Maybe that’s the simplest way to talk about strategy. And there’s four key tenants to the playbook. The first is pieces development. And I think we touched on some of that earlier in the call, where we talk about, you know, what, what is it big pieces that we think we want to go after, so let’s say something like productivity. So we think, you know, anything that increases productivity increases efficiency on the farm is a big player, and that that would make sense, given the supply, demand, imbalance and all of that stuff. So there’s a, there’s a huge opportunity of finding the right themes. And for that, we really use a lot of our network, our expertise, to do a lot of research to understand where where the things are. The second part of a playbook is deal creation. And then the third is deal structure. And they’re both kind of linked. I think the deal creation part is, is unique, because we spend a lot of time with the underlying companies before we invest, to understand you know, what their drivers are, what their motivations are, and to really create a deal when they might not be a deal in the first place. So we’re really, we’re not getting deals, shown to us, you know, by bankers on a platter. These are usually deals we have worked on for two years, maybe even more, getting the relationship built with the seller, before we can actually go and structure the deal. And on the deal structuring pipe. This is something we’ve we’ve been quite innovative in, in that we even though it’s a it’s a traditional private equity fund, we do structured ideas with a lot of, you know, Kwazii equity, so, you know, debt like feature with a lot of ratchets and different sort of structures that protect us on the downside, especially with some volatility that agriculture can experience. And maybe maybe at the end of it, we reduce our overall return profile, but then we also reduce our overall risk profile. And that’s, that’s something that’s worked well for us. And then the last, the last step in our playbook is public. business transformation. And that’s really the the key and something that’s evolved the most. And this is where the sector specialists I mentioned earlier, are really play a big role. And that is really to what what is our key value post investment. And that is, you know, really executing our 90 day plan and executing our long term strat plan, extracting the maximum value, you know, positioning the company well for an exit. And those those are things, especially as we’re now further into our second fund, you know, we spend more and more of our time on that, in fact, our team today is bigger on the sector specialist side than it is on the investment team side. That’s a very, very brief overview of the strategy, I think, has maybe a couple more components, we’ve got, you know, a Mandala impact component to this, which is our whole impact effort. We’ve got Mandala innovations, which is our effort on the agri tech side. And then we’ve got two more which become about analytics and Mandala network, we have very selected events that we hold a few events where we invite different industry leaders to interact. And we bring up portfolio companies together, and exchange information so that we can sort of improve overall, our network and also how a couple of other companies perform this sort of complex strategy that keeps evolving, and we keep trying to improve it. And ultimately, you know, it’s all about enhancing returns for our investors.

 

Jonathan Bench  16:27 

So I do a lot of international work with companies and with investors, structuring deals. And that can be a very emotional thing for companies, right? When someone like you approaches, you’re outside money, you’re outside expertise, it can be a little daunting, a little intimidating. So how are you received? In those situations? Do you find the efa spend a lot of time developing rapport with the target companies? You know, really building those relationships? Or would you say that your method is to identify companies that really need need the capital and need the expertise? And they’re happy to have you work with them?

 

Uday Garg  17:05 

Yeah, I mean, there’s no, there’s no real straight answer, it’s a bit of a balancing act, as you as you probably know, I think it’s a combination of maybe my background, family background helps a little bit, I’m a pretty relaxed guy, I don’t wear suits, and, you know, show up in fancy cars, and we go meet these guys, we spend a lot of time are very patient, we really love to help these companies, by giving them a lot of advice, even before we’ve invested, we bring a lot of our sector specialists and have them interact with the different team members, so they can see the value that we add. And really, you know, we try to understand it, as I mentioned earlier, we try to understand what their issues are, what their motivations are, where they want to go with this thing long term, and then try to see where we can help them, you know, eventually the deal we propose, you know, it’s always a win win. And so yeah, just takes, it just takes a while. And I think, and I said, we take two years really, to get a deal, you know, from from first meeting to actually getting a deal done. And that’s really the time I think, you know, you need to spend with some of these guys before, you know, they can develop mutual respect, you know, so that you can actually get to a deal.

 

Jonathan Bench  18:19 

So you mentioned agritech, just a little bit ago, how kind of interest in your general thoughts on agritech? Because that’s obviously a massive component to you know, rooting out inefficiencies in the sector. So how should investors think of agritech investing and opportunities in this sector?

 

Uday Garg  18:38 

Yeah, it’s, it’s definitely the number one, you know, area in the food and agri value chain today, and I would say a majority of the money more than 50% of new capital is all flow into exactly tech. So it’s a very relevant topic, I feel people should remember that, you know, Tech has always been around in in agriculture, from again, going to the value chain and going through the whole value chain from, from inputs all the way to the retail end, just think of how much everything has evolved, you’ve got seed technology, which is you know, grown by leaps and bounds, you know, the farms are more productive than they ever were, you can look at you know, tractors which are entirely run by GPS, and you know, remote less or driverless tractors, you’ve got all kinds of improved fertilizers, you’ve got better processing capacity, I mean, we we own a tetrapack facility for one of our companies, and you know, every few years, we double the speed of our machines, like we can produce double the number of packets and you know, along the chain, there’s, you know, food science, which has moved a lot. And my point here is just that technology’s not a new thing in food and agri as one more example, look at packaging, I mean, how little it’s grown by leaps and bounds right, the innovation and packaging, and this has been happening for 20-30 years. So I think first of all that that’s that’s my first real concern. Is that agri tech as a whole is not a new area. And and that’s important to recognize. And the second is the renewed interest in agri tech more recently, is clearly because of, you know, data, right. So you’ve got increasing processing speeds, you’ve got, you know, Telecom, wireless telecom technology. So we know are now 5g coming up. So all that is made data processing a lot faster, easier, more efficient. And that’s driving a new wave of agri tech investing. So that’s, that’s important, you know, to to also recognize, and then the third point is, you know, where what is all this achieving? Right? What What is the point of all the agritech money that’s, that’s going in? And, for me, I break it down into two key areas, mostly that say, I don’t know, it’s tough to put a number. But I’d say more than 75% of money into agri tech today, is really going towards productivity, or efficiency. And just to explain further, on the productivity side, it’s really going into finding ways to improve yield, right? How do you improve what you can produce? So just think of all the agri tech companies you’ve heard of, you know, all on farm technologies, like drones, and sensors, all of them are really driving what at the end, they have to improve productivity, otherwise, a farmer will just not buy it. And then the second is efficiency, which is just reducing costs really, or more from last night. So you know, you move into a technology that, like we have a sugarcane business that we’ve invested in where we’re taking the, the the fiber, which is really was just burned for, for a fuel, and we’re producing ethanol from it, right. And then we’re producing some other specialty chemicals from it. So that that type of technology is also where a lot of money is going. I want to leave it at that and keep it quite basic. I think that the cool stuff is probably another another session, you know, that cellular meat and all that stuff. I think there’s there’s very little truly disruptive agri tech and I would put cellular meat in that that’s that’s really innovative and can be game changing. I would say majority of the agri tech out there is just focused on productivity and efficiency.

 

Jonathan Bench  22:14 

That’s fascinating. Yes, we definitely would love to talk with you more about this cellular meat and other innovations you’re seeing, like you said true innovations, and a future time when we can talk again. What are your thoughts on the cannabis sector and I, we, when we had our initial call to discuss this, I mentioned it to you, and you’re in the middle of Southeast Asia and Fred and I do quite a bit of international work, and we get inquiries quite often. You know, two are from the US and often dealing with Southeast Asia. So what are you seeing? What are you hearing? You know, do you think it will be as big in, in Southeast Asia as it is showing to be in Europe and North America? You know, what kind of general thoughts would be great?

 

Uday Garg  22:54 

Yeah, so you know, to start with, we’ve invested in a company in the US called Arcadia Bio Sciences, which has, which I think is is today, you know, the leading CBD seed company, again, to go back to the value chain. So, you know, if you understand the value chain of CBD, and hemp, that makes life a little bit easier to think about where to invest, what’s gonna happen to it, and so on. And it’s quite interesting, we, again, this is this is my opinion. So it could be could be wrong, but when we look at the value chain, you know, the maximum value today will be with the Seed Company, and with the brand, right, so who whoever can come up with a retail product that consumers can associate with and so on. And you can argue that, will that be a new player? Or will that be you know, Pepsi? Just putting CBD infused Pepsi or Coke, putting CBD infused Coke, right? So that’s, that’s an interesting area to talk about. And then on the seed side, which is really the basis for the CBD is some interesting points. So if you look at other crops like soybean, which is the most developed crop, right, you can get the entire you know, genomic sequence of soybean you know, it’s been you know, studied every which way you’ve got, you know, three layers of gene stacking into and you’ve got you’ve got so much work done on it, that when you and you can work with you know, universities in the US which have done tons and tons of work, when you look at CBD or you know, hemp there is almost no work in fact, there is no work because it was illegal to do any work. Right. So when we say al Qaeda, for example, and even my own family business, we work with all universities in the US for research like the big sort of agora universities and none of the there is no database there for any you know, any material on on what what’s in that out. How do you develop these these see technologies in CBD for CBD enhancement or For him, and what we’re finding with Arcadia is that Arcadia is able to through its relationships and being a pretty well established Seed Company. And seed technology company is able to really go back to the beginning and start building up this expertise. And the real challenge or the real interesting play here will be to see how quickly do the majors get into this. And if the majors today Today, the majors are not getting into it. So if the Monsanto Bayer, Syngenta, as you know, are not looking into this, who is going to take the lead, and it’s got to be a real seed company where they can be guys in their basements who used to grow marijuana, right. And then you have regulation, which is coming in which, which expects things to be really proper, for example, you know, the CBD content and all of this stuff. And it’s, it’s obviously an evolving, evolving regulatory framework as well. So I, you know, maybe I’m not being too coherent, because it’s a trading space. And there’s a lot to cover, but I think the seed guys really hold the key here in terms of transforming the space, because they will be able to produce, you know, more consistent varieties to veg basic technologies like hybrid, you know, which, which, again, is not there, it’s all called sort of homegrown. And then I don’t think the processing guys which are today today, all the attention is on the processing, guys, I don’t think the processing guys really have much to offer, it’s very commoditize, because there’s no technology in that, then the retail guys, you know, are still very small. I mean, everyone’s still trying to make their brand. And, you know, I’m not an expert on the brand side. So I wonder, you know, if it will be a new brand, or if you’re better off just selling CBD to Coke or Pepsi, right, and let them let them go and do do that thing. So that’s, that’s really my feeling on the overall industry. Again, the I think it’s a much longer discussion. But as it pertains to Southeast Asia, I mean, look, Thailand is very keen on this, and there’s a lot of push straight from straight from the government to encourage massive amounts of this, you know, money to come in technology to come in, I think there is no doubt that there’s significant health benefits of CBD. So it’s just, it’s just a matter of time, I feel before this gets more and more accepted and gets put more and more into, you know, daily products and also Medicinal Products. And just as a last comment, I mean, with, with Corona and with stress levels very high. I mean, I think, you know, CBD, whether it’s, you know, qualities of, you know, how they sleep with sleep, and all of this could really be useful at this time.

 

Fred Rocafort  27:47 

Uday, just following up on on your your comments, you brought up universities, and just as a as a matter of curiosity, what are some of the the leading academic centers when it comes to agriculture, obviously, there are universities that come to mind if nothing else, because their their names prominently feature the word, agriculture. But I’m just wondering if perhaps there there are some some important players out there that might not be so so obvious, just as a matter of general knowledge,

 

Uday Garg  28:21 

Well, so I don’t know all the names, I just know, some that we worked with in the past. And I think, you know, on the west coast, you’ve got tons and Berkeley is one where we actually work with closely and our seed company in Davis, which is in UC Davis, as you know, we’ve licensed CRISPR, from University of California. So that’s a that’s a big one in the East Coast. Cornell is probably the biggest, I think, in the agri space, they’ve got joint research programs with us, actually. And then the other Midwestern guys in Illinois, and so on are a very big and I agree, and I think that’s that’s the more obvious, you know, Corn Belt type of universities practice actually does is that there’s some of it, we’ve just had worked with them, but they actually quite advanced on some of their technologies as well, and what they produce their r&d. I think they get huge amounts of funding a lot of universities, from the government for agri research, and really those that I think is some of the best in the world, really.

 

Fred Rocafort  29:17 

Let’s talk about impact investing. First of all, what is it for our listeners who might not be familiar with the term? And then how does Mandala approach impact investing?

 

Uday Garg  29:31 

Yep. So impact investing is just a massive space. I think everyone has a different view on what it means, you know, maybe the simple way to think about it is again, from you know, pure charity perspective, right? You wanna, you want to give you know, $1 to someone to eat, that’s impact and you can you can sort of keep moving on the curve making more commercial decisions, and maybe lesser and lesser impact, I suppose. And all The way to say like doing a buyout of a cigarette company, right? And, and then the key is to maybe find a sweet spot where you’re getting a commercial return as well as making impact. And then what is the impact you’re making, again, is subjective. You know, the United Nations have come up with these SDGs Social Development Goals, which are really helpful, at least in terms of saying, Okay, I’m making, you know, making an impact on these, one or two SDGs are these five SDGs. And the SDGs are things like, you know, improved water, or equality or women participation in labor, things like that. And, you know, it’s very easy to sort of check this out, I think the confusing bit is people like to feel they’re making an impact. And investors, especially fund investors are quite good at dressing up, when they call it green washing their strategies to make it look like they’re doing impact, because really, everything you do has some impact. So you know, real estate companies are saying they’re impact investors now, because they’re building, you know, solar roofs on top of the buildings. So it’s relative to what is Mandala look at. So first of all, given that we’re in food and agri impact is quite natural, we don’t even need to try, really, and we’re making massive impact across a huge number of the SDGs. I mentioned. So, you know, because we’re more upstream and midstream. In in the food and agri value chain, we touch farmers, which is our rural, which is mostly women farmers, we touch the environment, we touch water usage, you know, we touch new quality issues, and so on. So impact is naturally a big thing for what we do, that the area where we differentiate or how we think about it, is quite simply scalable, and sustainable impact. And what that really means for us is finding companies where our investment is being used to create impact that can be sustained beyond our investment. So really companies that can continue to shine, if you like after we’ve gone out of it. And so our investment is just there to help them. But really the impact is has to be sustainable, and it comes down to cumulative impact. So if I invest in something, it should not just be a one time impact, right? So I’m trying to build and trying to invest in a company that have built something a factory or or a processing plant, that will keep giving back to keep having impact. That’s the sustainable part of it. And the scalable part of it is we want to make sure that we can make impact over a large, large scale over over large number of people over a big footprint. And that has to do with finding companies that are relatively large. So we don’t want to, you know, I think how I use this example, maybe it’s not not that appropriate. But you know, basket weaving in, in a small village somewhere  is great, but it’s just not scalable. It’s too It’s too small. It’s not what we do as a fun and invoke scalable and sustainable impact, it really comes down to finding companies with good business models, and good unit economics. And so if the businesses are sound, when we put our money there, the impact that they create is both scalable and sustainable. And that’s really what we’re after. For just the last one minute on it is we, you know, we track our impact in a very numerical way. So we have a report that’s available on our on our website, which is you know, we have proprietary formulas, we actually take our impact to try to convert it into dollars. So for every dollar invested, what is $1 impact we’re generating, and then we accumulate that dollar impact because that’s how it should be we expect it to be cumulative impact. And then we generate an SROI. So you’ve heard of ROI, which is return on investment. So we generate a social return on investment. And that’s kind of what we report to our investors.

 

Jonathan Bench  34:05 

Uday, it’s been great having you on the show with us. We really appreciate your time, appreciate your insights and hope that we can see you again, on another episode in the future. Dig in more and some areas we mentioned today. We always like to close our episodes with recommendations so that our listeners and Fred night as well can can learn what you’ve been reading what what you’ve seen lately, what you recommend, so we can get more information, we can really get a good feel, you know, either in this region or other reasons, whatever you think might be really relevant to us today.

 

Uday Garg  34:40 

So one of the books that I’ve read recently, and I really recommend it to pretty much everyone I need is a book called 40 Chances, Finding Hope in a Hungry World by Howard Buffett. This is Warren Buffett’s son, you know, he’s actually quite accomplished on his own. I think he was on the board of ADM,on the board of a pivot irrigation business, but it’s actually a great book because it it really straddles impact agriculture, investing in emerging market investing. And it’s really inspiring. You know, it’s it’s one of my favorite books in the space. And I would really strongly recommend that.

 

Jonathan Bench  35:18 

And Fred, what do you have for us?

 

Fred Rocafort  35:20 

I’d like to recommend an excellent piece called a Woman called Hey, and that’s, hey, as in hey, how are you? It’s not a not a foreign word. But the the article does talk about about China. It’s sad, at times infuriating at times, uplifting story about a woman who belongs to an ethnic minority group in China, who is who was kidnapped basically, to be to be married to a man and in a different province. This is a, unfortunately a phenomenon that has been around in China for a while and remains to this day. Part of what made this particular story particularly interesting, but also sadder is the fact that because this woman belonged to an ethnic minority, she she didn’t really speak Mandarin, and was unable to to learn it over the years. So that made it harder even for her to contemplate making her way back to her village. But what happened was, over time, once her husband died, her daughter decided to try to help her find her her home village. And it’s a fascinating story. It was basically a crowdsource to kind of solution where they were talking to people back in the home province, and they were able to narrow down the areas from from which this this woman had had had come. I don’t want to reveal too much. But it’s it’s a it’s a great read. really one of the best things I’ve read in a while the author is Zhang Yue I don’t know what the tones are. So just going to try to keep a neutral opinion. They’re translated, masterfully by Matt Turner. And that came out on November 28. So again, a Woman Called Hey, what about you, Jonathan, what can you recommend this week?

 

Jonathan Bench  37:20 

My recommendation this week is a Nikkei Asia webinar that they put on a couple of weeks ago called the New Tech Supply Chain. I really liked this webinar, it was about an hour and a half long, had four different staff writers who covered technology in Asia, including one based in Vietnam, one based in Taiwan, one based in mainland China. And it really gave a good insight into what it took China to build its impressive supply chain now and high technology, you know, in the last 20 years, and what it would take for competing Asian countries to replace that supply chain, or at least to get up to par, where they can, for instance, order apart and get it in a matter of hours or days as opposed to a matter of weeks, which is what we’re looking at right now. So I highly recommend that if you are considering relocating some of your supply chain from China to other parts of Asia. Really easy to listen to, and quite a good webinar for the day. We want to thank you again for being with us. We wish you well certainly we’ll keep track of what you’re up to on social media. And look forward to catching up with you again.

 

Uday Garg  38:27 

It’s my pleasure. Thanks for listening patiently to me talk and yeah I look forward to catching up.

 

Jonathan Bench  38:35 

We hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. We look forward to connecting with you on social media to continue discussing developments in global law in business. This podcast was produced by Harris Bricken with executive producer Madeline Williams music composed by Stephen Schmitt. Tune in next week for another episode. We’ll see you then

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai