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Sandeep FariasFounder & Managing Partner

Sandeep Farias is Founder and Managing Partner at Elevar and a founding team member at Enmasse. He founded Elevar in 2008, being passionate about working with early-stage companies that foster economic development for low income communities – by delivering affordable and quality essential services like MSME finance, education, healthcare and agricultural services. 

Sandeep leads the firm’s investment strategy, and engages with entrepreneurs in India and Latin America to think through critical inflection points in their entrepreneurial journeys. Working with Elevar’s teams in India, Mexico and the United States, he also plays a leadership role across markets in determining the firm’s investment priorities, underwriting of new investment opportunities, entrepreneur selection, driving fund performance and portfolio management. 

Sandeep has over 25 years of work experience in diverse areas including emerging markets investing, governance and regulation, organizational design, transactions and structuring and law; and is widely regarded as one of the pioneers in impact investing. He has played a leadership role in the Indian microfinance sector’s scale and transformation over a decade, as the sector moved from the non profit space to formal banking – a transformation which has been one of the first successes of impact investing globally. 

In the past, he led the corporate law team at NDA, a leading multi-locational and research based international law firm in India. He also set up and established Unitus in India in 2004 where he actively partnered with some of India’s leading microfinance institutions/banks, which were then in their formative years. Sandeep has an integrated law and arts degree from the National Law School of India University (NLS). 

Sandeep enjoys spending time with his two daughters, reads a lot about almost any topic, loves street food and keenly follows politics in over 40 countries around the world.

What kind of experience did you have before Elevar?

Apparently a former American President said, “I was a lawyer, now I am a reformed man.”

What is a good day at work like for you?

A good day consists of a field visit with an entrepreneur and understanding the customer through his or her eyes.

What is your Elevar career highlight so far?

The highlight is being part of a financial services journey, where microfinance went from a non profit activity to banking in a decade — and trying to replicate that scale in other sectors like education and agriculture.

What makes for a good Elevarian?

To quote Robert Frost : someone who recognises that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

Reflections on the nature of entrepreneurship.

It’s lonely out there. I also think that entrepreneurship is the ability to tell the difference between an expense and an investment, both being outflows of cash.

The field visit that made a difference.

A visit to an affordable school outside Delhi. A couple of 6th grade girls told me that they either wanted to join the police or start a beauty salon. Powerful stuff!! Jobs that have immediate dignity, and entrepreneurship!