Community investment an offshoot of socially responsible investment has been around for ages. It is a booming market in both Europe and US.Taking community investment to a new level in India HDFC Mutual Fund recently launched three-year closed-end debt scheme in association with Indian Cancer Society with a purpose to donate money to cancer patients. The returns on investment (donations) would be looked after by the governing advisory council (GAC), comprising industry veterans and reputed doctors, already in place at the ICS which would also monitor funds disbursement. It would overview HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure (‘HDFCC’) deployment, too. An independent auditor would be appointed to overview the decisions made by the GAC towards HDFCC. This was revealed by Milind Barve, MD, HDFC AMC Ltd, in an interview with IMT.
Why did you think of a mutual fund in cancer cure?
Cancer is one of the most common non-communicable diseases in India. In 2008, nearly one million new cancer cases were detected in the country. The loss of lives as a result of this disease was more than six lakhs in that year. However, when detected early, cancer is curable in many cases. Especially in the case of children, the survival rate is very high if treatment is started immediately upon diagnosis. However, reeling under the pressure of prohibitive treatment costs, cancer cure is unaffordable to most families in India. Apart from the huge direct medical costs, there are many other hidden costs, such as expenses on food and nutritional supplements, travel, loss of earnings due to ill-health, etc. Today, the medical cost of cancer treatment for a patient is approximately Rs 2-12 lakh, depending upon the type of treatment. Every patient deserves a fighting chance to beat this disease through timely and complete treatment. Adequate financial aid would ensure that many patients do not give up their treatment midway and continue their fight against cancer.
HDFC Mutual Fund (HDFC MF) has recently completed 10 years in operation. HDFC MF thought of commemorating its 10th anniversary by a unique philanthropy initiative of launching a three year closed ended capital protection oriented income scheme namely HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure (‘HDFCC’) in association with the Indian Cancer Society (ICS). No investment and advisory fee shall be charged by HDFC Asset Management Company Limited.
How does this Fund help the cause of Cancer?
The money raised through donation of dividend income by investors of HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure would be utilised by the Indian Cancer Society for the following purposes:
Fund the treatment costs of needy and under – privileged cancer patients, provide food and nutritional support to the cancer patients undergoing treatment and meet direct expenses of carrying out the above activities.
Tell us about your association with Indian Cancer Society?
The Indian Cancer Society (ICS) is a public charitable trust and India’s oldest anti-cancer NGO established in 1951. It provides affordable and innovative solutions for the detection and treatment of cancer and for the post-treatment rehabilitation of survivors. A dedicated team led by a reputed board of trustees comprising the best of both the Corporate and Medical world professionally manage ICS. A specially constituted governing advisory council comprising eminent professionals would have oversight and governance on the use of funds donated to ICS by investors of HDFCC.
Do you think mixing investments with donation is a good idea?
HDFC AMC is known for its investment management and distribution capabilities. We are using these capabilities to combine an investment product and philanthropy to provide a larger good to society by taking up the cause of cancer cure. We have a large base of customers and distributor network that can be leveraged for this cause.
The minimum investment needed and the barrier to entry is a bit high. Why is this so?
Since only 50 or 100 per cent dividend income will be in the form of donation, a smaller amount of Rs one lakh being invested would not have been meaningful.
Is this fund targeted more towards particular segment of investors like larger corporates and not individuals?
HDFC Debt Fund for Cancer Cure is a first of its kind in India. It is a small but significant step in the direction of tapping socially responsible investors across the country for their invaluable contribution in making a difference to the lives of needy and underprivileged cancer patients. The product is not aimed at a particular segment of investors. It is aimed at all the above type of investors without any bias. The scheme will be open to all segment of investors across the country, who can all in a small way make a difference.