Game Changer Amie Patel is Creating Greater Social Equity

May 10, 2023

How can we bridge the divide between extreme wealth and a lack of access so pervasive that it excludes entire communities of people from the global economy? The quest for an answer to this question has propelled Amie Patel, Partner at Elevar Capital, since the earliest days of her career.

Amie’s path to impact investing began with her desire to align her career with her values. After only a few years of working in the high flying world of investment banking in New York, Amie started to see a disconnect between the large sums she and her colleagues were paid and the lack of alignment with her personal values. M&A is ideally about synergies, but who was actually going to do the work to create them and ensure the best possible outcomes? Who was actually going to derive the value from a transaction?

These are big questions, and Amie wanted better answers.

So like many others who have gone on to successful careers in impact investing, Amie took a time out. A left turn. A break to re-evaluate where she was going and how she could contribute more meaningfully to bringing value for others in ways that aligned with her own moral compass. She moved to Nepal to volunteer, teaching environmental education in a small village for the better part of a year.

Armed with a new sense of purpose, Amie returned to the world of finance and forged her own path, finding ways to marry her investment acumen with the goal of creating greater equity for the underserved in emerging markets around the world. Through a variety of roles at OPIC , Soros Economic Development Fund, and Imprint/Goldman Sachs, where she led the emerging markets focus, she acquired a unique and holistic perspective on how to leverage capital to bring about meaningful social change.

In joining Elevar Equity in 2016, Amie found an investment firm where she was able to bring to bear the full range of her experiences. Elevar invests in companies that can fuel economic resilience and vibrancy of underserved communities in emerging markets, like India and Latin America. To-date, Elevar has democratized access to essential products and services for over 45 million households and catalyzed billions of dollars of capital in 45 companies.

The Game-Changing Idea

Sometimes the biggest ideas are actually the simplest. Elevar had recognized early on that the biggest impediment to unleashing more investment capital to create greater social equity is a misunderstanding of risk: most investors have an outsized perception of risk when it comes to helping people that aren’t well off. There’s an entire ecosystem of potential customers for young businesses who are simply overlooked because these individuals have never before played a role in the formal economy. As a result, investors are missing out on a compelling investment opportunity and the needs of the underserved remain undercapitalized.

None of this work is easy. But Elevar has honed and proven their strategy over many years across multiple markets. Part of Elevar’s playbook is to find hidden alpha by being the first mover in a cutting edge white space.

Whether it’s backing the first micro small business lender in India, the first network payment system in Peru or the first affordable housing company in India, by being first, Elevar can create the DNA for the long-term success of an investment. This means putting in place the foundations for growth – like proper governance structures, teaching entrepreneurs how to align impact KPIs with financial returns and, more generally, laying the foundation for a bigger ecosystem to take root.

Because Elevar is out in the field, they can identify the inefficiencies as well as find skilled entrepreneurs with investable businesses. One of the other big misperceptions about investing in emerging market businesses that deliver products and services to low income communities is about the quality of entrepreneurs that you can find. These aren’t mom and pop businesses. Elevar backs individuals who typically come from big industries – leaders in the private sector who know what it takes to build and run big institutions.

By carefully identifying the right entrepreneurs to partner with and then putting in place the support these businesses need to grow, Elevar creates the proof points that ultimately derisk investments in what had previously been an unproven sector.

Impact. At scale. Creating greater equity while targeting top quartile financial returns. Now that’s huge.

Why Her Work Matters

At a time when most of the impact investing community was focused on addressing environmental challenges related to global warming, Amie’s steadfast commitment to the “S” – social challenges – was deep and authentic and years ahead of the rest of the industry.

Today, there’s finally much more discussion about how to drive solutions that are inclusive of low income communities and drive equitable outcomes that will attract returns-seeking, mission-aligned investors. Amie and Elevar are proving markets, and in so doing, are creating the pathways for more investment capital that can help create economic opportunity for communities who face barriers of access and inequity.


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