Bill McGlashan on Moving His Family to India and the Country’s Impact Investing Potential

In 2013, Bill McGlashan, along with his wife and three children, moved from their comfortable home in Marin County, California over 8,000 miles east to Mumbai, India. A managing director and managing partner for the private equity investment firm TPG, it marked a return for McGlashan, who had lived in the country for a time decades earlier during his freshman year of high school.

Spending time there after living on a kibbutz in Israel, Bill McGlashan has said that his time living internationally completely changed his world view. Going from Palo Alto, California to a school where he went through military training and was taught in Hebrew (McGlashan nor his family were Jewish), he described the time as like being transported to a foreign planet.

He wanted his own children to learn that their experience of the world was limited, and open up their minds to new and foreign experiences. Although he found it just as challenging this time as he had in his youth, McGlashan describes the journey as profound, and one that made his family closer as a result. 

But adventure wasn’t the only reason McGlashan decided to move to India. As founder of TPG’s growth investment arm, he wanted to be able to effectively underwrite whether potential investments could effectively navigate the dynamics of its local environment. Having a senior team member that is a core investor with deep local knowledge is hugely strategic, and although his partners were tentative about the Indian market, McGlashan believed it was the right call.

Indeed, that year in India has proven useful when it comes to selecting investments for McGlashan’s impact investment fund, The Rise Fund. A passion project that became the largest impact fund to ever be created with $2.1 billion in starting investments, The Rise Fund seeks to demonstrate that returns and positive social and environmental impact are collinear, with the latter not necessarily taking away from the former.

The Rise Fund invested $50 million in Dodla Dairy, one of the largest dairy companies in India. Working with roughly 240,000 small farmers, Dodla Dairy collects 1.2 million liters of milk a day, uses digital thermometers to test it, and pays the farmers through remote-payment solutions. They utilize long-term contracts, meaning farmers can confidently scale their business by increasing their cow count, and the company recently went public.

McGlashan pointed out that the milk productivity per cow in India is a fraction of what it is in other parts of the world, not because there are no high-yielding breeds but because of input. It is vital information such as this that can only be developed through deep knowledge of a market, and McGlashan identified a large opportunity to create a great financial outcome as well as a high multiple of money, a standardized metric related to impact. 

According to McGlashan, India is a fertile environment for impact investing. Citing the Aadhaar biometric ID system and the proliferation of mobile wireless capability across the country, he emphasizes that India is an environment where there’s a chance to truly develop some great companies while also yielding real, significant change at scale.