Unitus invests in dental clinic chain focused on small towns Smile Merchants

Seed-stage impact investor Unitus Seed Fund (USF) has invested between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore ($83,000-$166,000) in Free3 Healthcare Pvt Ltd, which runs a dental clinic chain focused on markets outside the metro cities under the Smile Merchants brand.

The dental clinic chain will use the investment to further develop its hub-and-spoke clinic model in the state of Maharashtra and to expand in other states of India as well.

This is the third investment by USF in the healthcare domain in the last four months in India after it backed online healthcare-focused marketplace and eye screening service provider Welcare.

USF is looking to invest in three-four more healthcare startups this year and has also hired global health expert Michael J. Free as a special advisor for the sector.

Unitus Seed Fund is currently on the road to raise Rs 60 crore ($10 million) for its Unitus Seed Fund India which received SEBI approval in December last year. It expects to complete its fund raising by 2014-end. Entrepreneurs like Manipal Group’s Ranjan Pai and former Infosys’ executive TV Mohandas Pai have committed $2 million to the fund and form the anchor investors. Investment banker Hemendra Kothari, METRO Cash and Carry India’s managing director Rajiv Bakshi and founder and managing director of payment solutions provider Oxigen Services India Private Limited Pramod Saxena have recently invested in the fund.

“We launched this fund keeping in mind the significant interest of family offices, HNIs and UHNIs keen to create social impact through their investment,” said Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, partner at USF. Apart from healthcare, the firm is also looking to invest in agriculture and education startups.

USF also has a global fund targeting investors from North America and other regions for investment in India.

A sister concern of USF, early stage investor Unitus Impact is also looking to raise at least $30 million for its maiden Livelihood Investment Fund by 2014-end.

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