Podcast #2004.04

Not Philanthropies, not Governments but Private Capital  

With Nipun Sahni

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About Nipun Sahni: Nipun is a seasoned Investor, and MD at Apollo Global, India’s largest Real Estate PE fund, since 2015. He has led investments in the Indian Real Estate sector since 2006 with leadership positions Re-Zone Investments & DSP Merrill Lynch.

About Sumeet Singh: Sumeet is CEO at GoMassive. He has over 15+ years of experience in finance and fundraising. At GoMassive he focusses on Pollution & Climate Tech Investments. 

Sumeet: Welcome to our series of webinars with Mr. Nipun Sahni. Nipun has a career spanning 26 years in investing. He’s deployed more than $3 billion across debt and equity in real estate, infrastructure & telecom. He’s also one of our lead investors on the massive platform. Thank you Nipun thank you for joining us today.

To start off, given your background in real estate investing what excites you about pollution tech and climate tech investing?

Nipun: Well, firstly Sumeet thanks. Thanks for doing this. and I hope you are safe in these trying times of Covid where we are locked up and, uh, so it’s great to do it. I think it’s one of the best uses of time you can have to discuss. Very important topic. I think this appealed to me, because I think it’s one of the most important things in our life. Life is not only about making money, but also trying to contribute and trying to change things. So while what I do in my, on the professional side is also exciting, but I think this is equally exciting or trying to build something with people who are like minded, people who try and share your vision and you know, hopefully we can move the needle. We are very small players right now, but I think in times to come it will be massive.

Sumeet: But typically pollution tech and climate tech investment is associated with philanthropy’s backed funds. Where do you see us making a difference as venture capital in this sector?

Nipun: Every investor has a continuum and a time frame where different people start getting attracted to the investment opportunities in that ecosystem at different points in time. And there has to be people who take the lead. Just because others are not doing it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense. It’s just that its amorphous, people don’t understand it. People probably don’t want to spend too much time on it. There are other priorities or what other people are doing. If people are in jobs, they’re doing what they’re told to do than the work, they want to do. I think that’s one of the biggest things that holds back people, from doing things. And, and it’s happened in every sector.

You know, uh, back in the days, infrastructure and real estate were not considered private equity sectors. You know, they’re not very old. In India it’s probably about 15 years back is when it started. It was very nascent with very few players. And then today it’s mainstream. You have over billions of dollars coming in every year between infrastructure and real estate. You’ve seen that happen in several sectors within technology, whether it was related to the e-commerce wave, whether it was related to SAAS products, whether it’s related to healthcare. I think different sectors appeal to investors at different points in time. I think one of the reasons anything to do with pollution, whether it’s to do with, you know, air, water, agriculture, sewage is treated as like, this is government activity. This is not private sector, but I don’t agree with that.

I think on the contrary, governments are mostly slow to react. Governments are very reactive. They are rarely proactive and innovation has always, always been led the private sector and definitely, you know, in different countries, even governments do innovation. But by and large, I think innovation, is the domain of the private sector in every area. And we are already seeing that. I think it’s the investors who are lagging. But there is a whole lot of innovation happening in every sub sector off areas which are related to the environment. I will break it into four parts, you know, Environment if we see it is to do with mobility, you know, uh, the second part is related to water and waste.

The third part is clean energy and fourth is related to food and agri. And all these four sectors by themselves are very large. And it’s incorrect to say that investors are not interested. On the contrary worldwide and in other countries, um, maybe not so in India so far, but in other country, each of these sectors is very big and attracting investor interest from very wide type of investors, institutional investors, family offices, endowments, pensions, and yes, there are dedicated pools of capital which are getting created for this ecosystem.