Unitus Seed Fund (USF), a seed-stage investment fund based in Bangalore and Seattle which focuses on accelerating business catering to bottom of the pyramid segment, has invested an undisclosed amount in low-cost eye screening service company Welcare Health Systems Pvt Ltd.
The Chennai-based company founded by ophthalmologist T Senthil sets up low-cost eye screening services within existing health centres. The company is leveraging new device technology to make screening more affordable and accessible for bottom of the pyramid segment, according to the release.
“We are excited by Senthil’s progress and vision to bring affordable eye screening to the masses in India. Through early detection of eye diseases at under half the cost of conventional procedures, Welcare has the potential to prevent blindness for 10 million Indians,” said Dave Richards, managing partner, Unitus Seed Fund.
Unitus Capital was the financial advisor and Impact Law Ventures was the legal advisor on the transaction.
Welcare offers existing medical centres such as diabetic clinics and general hospitals the opportunity to offer on-premise eye screening services. Earlier, most healthcare facilities especially had to refer patients to outside specialty clinics as they could not set up their own financially viable eye screening service.
The company already has operations in multiple cities in the country and will use this capital to expand in cities they are present in and explore more geographies in the country.
Unitus Seed Fund, a part of Unitus, is a $25 million fund and was co-founded by global early-stage investors Dave Richards and Will Poole. The fund invests $0.5-1 million in sectors like education, agriculture, healthcare, mobile and rural distribution centres among others.
Apart from Welcare, the fund made six investments in India this year including GoCoop Solutions (provides business services like marketplace and member management), Milaap Social Ventures (online platform to make microloans to India’s working poor) and Caravan Craft (sells merchandise from traditional Indian artisans).
Unitus Seed Fund’s India operations are headed up by Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, an experienced impact investor and startup operator. The fund plans to make equity investments in 30-40 early-stage BoP startups in the country over four years.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)