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Sandeep FariasFounder & Managing Partner

Sandeep Farias is Founder and Managing Partner at Elevar. He 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, United States and Mexico, he plays a leadership  role across markets in determining the firm’s investment priorities, underwriting of new investment opportunities, entrepreneur selection and portfolio management. Recently, Sandeep transitioned Elevar’s organizational and operational efforts globally, to focus on the firm’s investment strategy.   

Sandeep has close to 25 years of work experience in diverse areas such as emerging markets investing, governance and regulation, organizational design, transactions and structuring, and corporate law.  He founded Elevar in 2008, being passionately driven by working with early stage companies that foster economic development for low income communities; particularly in financial services including MSME finance and microfinance (where he played a leadership role in the sector’s transformation over a decade from the non-profit space to formal banking), affordable education, healthcare and agricultural services. 

Sandeep started his career in 1996 after completing an integrated law and arts degree from the National Law School of India University (NLS).  Over the next eight years, he worked mostly on cross border transactions at two leading corporate law firms, Amarchand Mangaldas and Nishith Desai Associates (NDA), worked inhouse on Wipro’s NYSE listing, and taught at NLS. At NDA he led the corporate law team and founded the firm’s award winning social and development sector practice. Prior to founding Elevar, in 2004 he established Unitus in India and actively partnered with some of India’s leading microfinance institutions / banks, which were then in their formative years.

Sandeep finds entertainment in time with his two daughters, plays with design and drives his colleagues and family nuts. He reads a lot about almost any topic, loves street food and keenly follows politics around the world. He cycles in fits and starts, loves a good argument and has recently discovered that miracles happen – he can touch his toes (almost).

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!