Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs): Unlocking New Investment Opportunities

What is Alternative Investment Fund ?

Alternative Investment Funds, (AIFs) also referred to as Alternate Investment Funds, as a means of investment, aggregate capital from affluent individuals or institutional investors, and allocate it to assets that are not commonly accessible through conventional investment avenues. AIF provides diversification benefits to investors by investing in private or unlisted equity, listed equity, real estate, hedge funds, venture capital, and other such assets. These funds are regulated by the securities regulator SEBI and follow a different set of rules compared to traditional investment vehicles

AIF investments can be used by investors seeking higher returns or those looking to diversify their portfolios. Investors are usually required to make a larger minimum investment and have to navigate more intricate regulatory frameworks when dealing with these funds. A team of expert fund managers oversee these funds and use various investment strategies to increase returns while minimizing risks.

Rules & Regulations / Mandatory requirements for AIFs


The creator of an AIF, whether it is a company promoter or designated partner for an LLP, is considered a sponsor. Alongside this, as outlined in Regulation 2(1)(q) of AIF Regulations, a manager is anyone appointed by the AIF to oversee its investments, and may also be the same entity as the Fund's sponsor

Minimum Investment

According to the alternative funds (AIF) Regulations, investors who are not employees, directors, or managers of an AIF are required to invest a minimum amount of Rs 1 crore. However, Angel Funds are an exception to this rule and allow investments ranging from Rs 25 lakhs to Rs 10 crores

Number of Investors

A maximum limit of 1,000 investors (excluding angel funds) is set by the AIF Regulations

Minimum corpus

Investments must be made or capital must be provided by either the sponsor or manager of an AIF. A continuing interest by sponsor of 2.5% of the corpus or five crore rupees whichever is lesser is required to be maintained for Category I and II funds. On the other hand, Category III funds must uphold a persistent investment of five percent of the total money invested or ten crore rupees, whichever amount is lower. In the case of angel investment funds, the sponsor or manager must retain a continuing interest of 2.5% of the corpus or Rs 50 lakhs, whichever is lower.

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Key Features of AIFs in India

  • SEBI Regulations: AIFs in India operate under the regulatory framework set forth by SEBI. SEBI regulations govern various aspects of AIFs, including fund registration, compliance requirements, disclosure norms, investor eligibility criteria, and reporting obligations. The regulatory framework ensures investor protection, transparency, and accountability.
  • Three Categories of AIFs: AIFs in India are classified into three categories based on their investment strategies, risk profiles, and target investors:
    a. Category I AIFs: These funds invest in startups, early-stage ventures, social ventures, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), infrastructure, and other economically or socially desirable sectors.
    b. Category II AIFs: These funds include private equity funds, debt funds, and other funds that do not fall under Category I or Category III. They have a wider investment mandate but are subject to certain regulatory restrictions.
    c. Category III AIFs: These funds employ diverse trading strategies and may use leverage, including hedge funds and other funds that use complex trading strategies. They have a broader investment mandate but are subject to higher regulatory oversight.

  • Professional Fund Management: AIFs in India are managed by experienced and SEBI-registered fund managers who possess expertise in the specific asset classes and investment strategies they deploy. These fund managers conduct thorough research, due diligence, and analysis to identify attractive investment opportunities and manage the risks associated with alternative investments
  • Investment Opportunities AIFs provide access to a wide range of investment opportunities in India, including investments in emerging sectors, early-stage companies, high-growth industries, real estate projects, infrastructure development, and distressed assets. These opportunities may offer potential for significant returns and portfolio diversification

Advantages of AIF

  • Generate higher returns in a diversified portfolio
  • Providing investors with a higher level of transparency and protection
  • Opportunity to invest in unlisted companies, early-stage startups, and niche industries that are not readily available through traditional investment vehicles
  • Prvide versatile investment strategies and structures to enable investors to customize their portfolios based on their risk capacity, investment objectives, and liquidity requirements
  • For fund managers, it provides access to a larger pool of funds, creating more opportunities for growth and diversification.

Disadvantages of AIF

  • These funds have high investment minimums, and hence may not be accessible to a large majority of investors
  • AIFs do not come with easy redemption or liquidity options, leading to investor difficulty in exiting the fund when required
  • Investors might receive partial data regarding the assets they intend to invest in.
  • AIFs are complicated investment vehicles that require high levels of expertise

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,In conclusion, alternative investment funds have emerged as a promising option for wealthy investors in India seeking higher returns and portfolio diversification. AIFs are still a relatively new and niche asset class in India, their potential for growth and expansion cannot be underestimated. By providing a platform for professional fund managers to invest in high-risk, high-reward opportunities, AIFs have the potential to drive innovation and growth in India's economy. As investors become more sophisticated and risk-tolerant, it's likely that AIFs will continue to gain popularity as a legitimate and valuable investment option.

Frequently Asked Questions

AIF is a privately pooled investment vehicle that collects funds from investors to invest in various asset classes such as private equity, venture capital, real estate, hedge funds, infrastructure, and other alternative investments.

AIFs differ from traditional investment options like mutual funds as they invest in alternative assets beyond the scope of traditional investment avenues like stocks, bonds, and cash. AIFs offer investors exposure to diverse and potentially higher-yielding investment opportunities.

AIFs are typically open to both institutional and high-net-worth individual investors. Eligibility criteria, minimum investment requirements, and regulatory restrictions may vary depending on the type of AIF and applicable regulations

AIFs are categorized into three types: Category I, Category II, and Category III. Category I includes funds that invest in start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), social ventures, and infrastructure. Category II comprises funds that do not fall under Category I or Category III, while Category III includes hedge funds and funds pursuing complex trading strategies

AIFs in most jurisdictions are regulated by the securities market regulator or financial authorities. Regulatory frameworks aim to protect investor interests, ensure transparency, and monitor compliance with regulations governing AIFs' operations and investments.

The investment strategy of an AIF depends on its mandate and target asset class. AIFs may focus on long-term capital appreciation, income generation, distressed assets, real estate development, private equity investments, or other specific investment objectives

AIFs carry various risks, including market risk, liquidity risk, credit risk, concentration risk, and specific risks related to the asset class they invest in. Investors should carefully evaluate the risks and potential returns before investing in AIFs

Returns from AIFs can be generated through a combination of capital appreciation, dividends, interest income, rental income, or other income sources depending on the underlying investments of the AIF.

The lock-in period varies depending on the type of AIF and its investment strategy. Some AIFs may have a specific lock-in period during which investors cannot redeem their investments. It is important to review the terms and conditions of the AIF before investing.

Choosing the right AIF involves evaluating factors such as the track record and experience of the fund manager, investment strategy, risk management practices, fees and charges, regulatory compliance, and alignment with your investment goals and risk appetite. Seeking professional advice can be helpful in the selection process.