A company can improve life for millions across the globe while growing revenue at 125%.
Given how business and philanthropy are often considered opposing pursuits, the previous statement would probably have been met with humor not long ago. Then came companies like iCare Benefits who did exactly that. Doing good by doing well. Based in Vietnam, the startup iCare Benefits has provided 1.5 million employees across Asia with life-changing services. That was done across 750 companies, each of which reported increased productivity as result. Below, we detail this amazing example of impact investing.
Behind the Benefits
It is not uncommon for emerging market employees to make under 500USD a year. This makes basic necessities like refrigerators and internet access a rare luxury. While employees could look for loans, many interest payments equate to more than a quarter of their annual wages. Trung Dung saw these obstacles in 2012, and launched iCare Benefits to provide workers with more equitable solutions. The team partnered with employers and suppliers to produce a one-of-a-kind benefits program. That program now allows employees to take loans for a plethora of life-changing services with zero interest.
Employees eligible for iCare Benefits are granted access to the iCare marketplace, where they can peruse a catalog that encompasses everything from furniture and pharmaceuticals to e-classrooms and financial services. The mission is to not only provide members with living essentials, but also arm them with the tools to advance their careers. iCare’s business model revolves around purchasing the goods wholesale and selling them to customers at market price.
In turn, employers and service providers receive value as well. Companies enjoy happier employees, which in turn improves performance and reduces turnover. Suppliers are able to access untapped, high growth markets while also receiving data on a new type of consumer.
Momentum for Tomorrow
On an annual basis, iCare now saves members an average of $226 – which is tremendous for workers with annual wages below 500USD. About 92% of members say they now enjoy a higher quality of life and 77% claim to be more productive at work. Those services have helped over 1.5 million members in 7 Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam. Management wants to reach 500 million members in 50 countries by 2019.
Revenue grew 126% in the third quarter of 2015, with each member generating 600 USD. Such results have attracted investors, with some of Asia’s largest venture capitalists already providing funding. Prominent names include Unitus Impact and SMBC. By proving social ventures can return strong economics, iCare Benefits ushers in a new era where it is possible to marry business with impact.
Fund , icare , icare benefits , impact investing. Shuyin Tang , private equity , unitus , unitus impact , venture capital , Vietnam , Vietnamese startups
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