While startups or emerging businesses who raise large rounds at eye-popping valuations dominate the media mentions, likes of Sridhar Vembu of Zoho and Nithin Kamath of Zerodha have emerged as underdogs and inspiration to many as they successfully built large and enduring companies without raising any external capital.
Zoho had a profit of Rs 516 crore whereas Zerodha crossed Rs 350 crore in profit for the year ending March 2019. Kamath, whose personal wealth was estimated at Rs 6,600 crore by Hurun’s Rich List 2019, has registered a new non-profit company to help mitigate the increasing risk of climate change.
According to regulatory filings, Nithin Kamath, his wife Seema Patil and brother Nikhil Kamath have been appointed directors of a new entity: Rainmatter Land development. The paid-up capital for the new firm is Rs 10 lakh.
The firm will buy land and convert them into farmlands, agroforests, and resorts, etc. either singly or jointly within or outside the limits of the municipal corporation or other local bodies, as per the incorporation documents.
Kamath along with the help of interested third parties want to build and conserve sustainable forests using modern techniques by partnering scientists and experts in this field. According to him, Rainmatter Land Development has a long term aim to experiment with different techniques, create a playbook of what is the best way and see how it can enable others to do the same.
Responding to Entrackr’s queries, Nithin Kamath said that he wants to build sustainable forests among other things via the new entity. “Climate change is probably the biggest risk to human existence. Most of us don’t care about it as much because the deterioration of our planet is happening slowly. Ideally, we should all be reacting the same way as we are to COVID-19,” said Nithin Kamath.
“To grow a forest the new entity needs to buy land, and this company has been set up for that purpose. There is no commercial agenda behind this venture,” he said.
While we don’t know whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of Zerodha Commodities will be folded into the new company, the move from Kamath family is a much-needed step from entrepreneurs with a significant fortune to contribute to fighting climate change.
Three months ago, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos had committed $10 billion to address the climate crisis under his new initiative – Bezos Earth Fund.
New age founders in the Indian startup ecosystem have rarely shown interest in funding such initiatives jointly or even individually.
In 2018, Paytm’s founder and UN Environment’s ‘Patron for Clean Air’ Vijay Shekhar Sharma joined hands with venture capitalist Shailesh Vickram Singh to announce a Massive Fund for India. While the fund aimed to support and invest in environmental protection projects, we haven’t seen many activities from the fund lately.
Kamath and Patil are probably the first few from the local startup scene to come forward in tackling climate change directly. Deep pockets and a commitment to help fight climate change beyond the remit of CSR will go a long way in making a difference, much more than just making headlines.
“Fighting climate change is a cause that we are backing passionately- investing in startups who are working on it, supporting NGO’s, and doing whatever we can ourselves as well,” added Nithin.
Hat tip: paper.vc.