Exclusive: Food and ag chief departs TPG’s The Rise Fund

Joy Basu’s exit from her role with the $2bn vehicle leaves it without a lead executive for agriculture, one of the seven sectors it targets.

Joy Basu, the food and agriculture impact sector lead for TPG’s $2 billion The Rise Fund, is transitioning out of her role with the fund, according to a representative of the vehicle.

The Rise Fund head of communications Frank Thomas told Agri Investor of the change in an email. In a subsequent interview, Thomas declined to comment on the reason for Basu’s departure.

“Joy, actually, is leaving the Rise Fund, so we actually don’t have someone who is specifically focused on agriculture at exactly this moment,” said Thomas. “She is going to continue to be a senior advisor to us. It’s not really my place to talk about what her career trajectory is.”

Thomas wrote in an email that Basu’s advisory role will be focused on The Rise Fund.

A fund manager that said The Rise Fund had considered investing in one of their firm’s portfolio companies told Agri Investor they understood Basu may also have some responsibilities related to TPG Growth.

Basu (pictured) joined TPG Growth as a vice-president and chief of staff in 2015 after completing an MBA from Stanford that year.

Ag on The Rise

In May, The Rise Fund purchased a stake in India-based fresh dairy product provider Dodla Dairy from Proterra Investment Partners for $50 million. At the time, Basu told Agri Investor that the investment was motivated by both the growth potential of growing middle-class demand in India and research indicating the potential for contract farming to raise farmers’ income.

In a June 2017 interview, Basu told Agri Investor that The Rise Fund viewed agriculture as an important sector for driving both social and environmental impact, mentioning agricultural inputs, inputs distribution and on-farm technology to reduce resource intensity as sub-sectors of particular focus.

“To adequately provide for a growing population in a resource-constrained plant, we must produce food with fewer natural resources and make better use of the food we do grow,” said Basu. “As many of the world’s poorest people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, we can develop the industry to help people raise themselves out of poverty.”

In October, Basu said The Rise Fund was in the process of finalizing a set of metrics to track progress in providing the farmers that supply Dodla with more predictable income. Among the factors likely to be measured, she said, were improvements in access to inputs, financing and infrastructure improvements.

Benchmarking impact

In a television interview last week, The Rise Fund co-founder and chief executive Bill McGlashan said the fund had worked with The Bridgespan Group and about 80 other organizations in the year-and-a-half leading up to the vehicle’s launch to develop a framework to underwrite, measure, report and audit the social impact of its investments.

McGlashan said a commitment to share the impact metrics developed by Rise Labs was an important part of convincing LPs to commit to The Rise Fund and that the firm hopes those metrics can provide a benchmark to help encourage other investors to enter the market.

“Before raising the fund, we got to a place where we were confident we could do it. The good news is we’ve now done it,” said McGlashan. “We actually published our first impact report, which details the specific social and environmental impact by each of our companies, it was actually audited by KPMG and that report came out about three weeks ago.”

Thomas told Agri Investor on Wednesday that the KPMG-audited report McClashen mentioned in the interview is not available to the public and that the referenced Rise Labs initiative has not yet launched. Thomas said he was unable to provide a time frame for when TPG might be in a position to share publicly the details of the framework it is developing to measure the social impact of its investments.

In the television interview, McGlashan said the report showed that The Rise Fund is “ahead of plan on all dimensions” with regard to the social impact of its 16 investments from the vehicle thus far and that the progress had been validated by third-party data.

Asked to provide an example, McGlashan detailed how The Rise Fund had helped the 280,000 smallholder farmers that supply Dodla Dairy since its investment in May.

“Over the course of improving their productivity and providing reliable offtake, we’ve generated a 50 percent uplift in the household income of those small stakeholder farmers,” he said. “By improving the productivity of the small stakeholder farmer, we create collinear improvement in the business; so there’s no conflict between the two whatsoever.”

Thomas also declined to comment on a recent media report suggesting that TPG plans to exit from between 10 and 12 percent of its 25 percent stake in Dodla through an IPO, with plans reportedly calling for proceeds to be used to support expansion through “multiple buyouts” in Europe and Africa.