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What is the Meaning of Alternate Investment Fund (AIF)?

What is the Meaning of Alternate Investment Fund (AIF)?
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From putting our random coins in piggy banks (Gullak) to investing in financial assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and FDs. WE ALL GREW UP!  However, only a few years ago, the only way to invest in financial assets in India was there above-mentioned traditional investment pools. But with an increasing tribe of high-net-worth individuals, Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) has come into the limelight. 

Therefore, an Alternate Investment Fund is designed to offer investors access to a broader range of assets and investment strategies that are not typically available through traditional investments. Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) have gained popularity among investors looking for diversification and higher returns, but what is AIF investment, and how do they differ from traditional investment opportunities?

In this blog, we will delve into the world of Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) and explore their unique characteristics, benefits, risks, and growth trajectory to answer your question. Now, let’s explore what is AIF.

What are Alternative Investment Funds(AIFs)?

The AIF full form is Alternate Investment Fund. AIF means any Indian investment vehicle that collects funds from sophisticated investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing in accordance with a defined investment policy. 

Alternative investment funds are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). However, AIF Funds are not subject to SEBI’s (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, SEBI’s (Collective Investment Schemes) Regulations, 1999, or any other fund management regulations. 

AIF investment strategies are tailored to suit the needs of high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and institutional investors. SEBI AIFs offer a more comprehensive range of investment opportunities and alternative asset management methods. AIF Funds invest in assets that are not typically available through traditional investments, and they can be structured as trusts, limited liability partnerships (LLPs), or companies.

But why is it better? 

The investment alternative offers about 11-16% return to retail investors compared to the traditional investment methods. Therefore, Alternate Investment Funds are considered a valuable addition to a well-diversified investment portfolio, as they provide exposure to alternative assets that can generate higher returns and offer low correlation to traditional investments. Now that we know what are alternate investment funds, let us look at a few factors to consider before investing in them. 

Factors to Consider Before Investing in AIF 

Before investing in an Alternative Investment funds in India in India (AIF), one should consider several other factors. Some of them are listed below:  

  • Investment Objective: Investors should evaluate the investment objective of the Alternate investment Fund India to ensure that it aligns with their investment goals and risk appetite.
  • Track Record: Investors should review the performance of the AIF over time and evaluate its track record. This can help investors determine the consistency of returns and the risk-adjusted returns generated by the fund.
  • Management Team: The management team of the AIF is responsible for making investment decisions and managing the fund’s assets. Investors should evaluate the experience and track record of the management team before investing.
  • Fees and Expenses: AIFs typically charge management fees and performance fees. Investors should evaluate the fees charged by the AIF and assess their impact on returns.
  • Liquidity: AIFs are typically illiquid investments, which means that investors may unable to sell their investments immediately. Investors should evaluate the liquidity of the AIF and consider their investment horizon before investing.
  • Risk Profile: AIFs typically carry higher risks than traditional investments. Investors should evaluate the risk profile of the AIF meaning and assess their risk tolerance before investing.
  • Regulatory Framework: Investors should evaluate the regulatory framework governing the Alternate Investment Fund and ensure that the fund is compliant with all applicable regulations.
  • Exit Options: Investors should evaluate the exit options available to them and consider the lock-in period of the Alternate Investment Fund.

Types of AIFs

Applicants can seek registration as an Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) with the help of these three following categories of alternative investment funds, with the help of an alternative investment fund manager.  

The Category I AIF 

  • Venture Capital Funds: Venture capital funds invest in start-up companies with high growth potential.
  • SME Funds: These funds invest in small and medium-sized enterprises with a proven profitability and growth track record.
  • Social Venture Funds: Cat 1 AIFs invest in social enterprises that aim to positively impact on society or the environment while generating financial returns.
  • Infrastructure Funds: Infrastructure funds invest in infrastructure projects such as airports, highways, and power plants.

Category II AIF

  • Real Estate Funds: Real estate funds invest in properties and generate returns through rental income, capital appreciation, or both.
  • Private Equity Funds: Private equity funds invest in private companies and provide capital to help them grow and expand.
  • Debt Funds: Debt funds invest in debt securities such as bonds, debentures, and other fixed-income instruments.

The Category III AIF

  • Hedge Funds: Hedge funds are AIFs that employ various investment strategies, such as short selling and leverage, to generate returns for investors.
  • Commodity Funds: Commodity funds invest in physical commodities such as gold, silver, and oil, as well as commodity futures and options.
  • Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE): In this case, the fund managers buy shares at a discount. PIPE helps small-medium-sized companies to fund their projects with ease.

Who Can Invest in Alternate Investment Fund? 

Those who want to invest in alternate investments must provide proof of income, PAN card and ID proof. As per Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regulations, only certain categories of AIF investors can invest in AIFs. These include:

  • Qualified Institutional Buyers (QIBs): QIBs are institutional investors deemed to have the expertise and financial resources to invest in AIFs. Examples of QIBs include banks, mutual funds, insurance companies, and foreign portfolio investors.
  • High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs): HNIs are individuals with a net worth of at least Rs. 2 crores or an annual income of at least Rs. 1 crore. They can invest in AIFs individually or through an investment vehicle such as a family trust.
  • Family Offices: Family offices are investment vehicles that manage the wealth of high-net-worth families. They can invest in AIFs on behalf of their clients.
  • Employees and Directors of the AIF: Employees and directors of the category of AIF and their family members can invest in the fund.

How to Invest In AIFs?

Starting with various alternative investments differs significantly, based on the specific type you choose. Some demand extensive capital and research, while others involve a simple few clicks. Here’s a broad overview of how to commence several alternative investment types.

Exploring Private Equity

Engaging in private equity involves acquiring shares in private companies. Participation avenues encompass private equity firms, venture capital funds, or crowdfunding platforms.

Venturing into Real Estate

Investing in real estate provides various paths, including the acquisition of rental properties, investment in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), or participation in real estate crowdfunding platforms.

Navigating Hedge Funds

Access to hedge funds is typically reserved for accredited investors with substantial capital. Investment opportunities encompass hedge fund managers or brokers.

Diving into Commodities

Commodity investments entail the procurement of physical assets like gold, silver, or oil. Participation can also occur through commodity trading platforms, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or mutual funds.

Investing in Art and Collectibles

Investing in art and collectibles is achieved through art dealers, auction houses, or online marketplaces. Due to the uniqueness of these items, it’s crucial to consider the reputation of the dealer.

Entering the World of Cryptocurrencies

Initiate investments in cryptocurrencies via cryptocurrency exchanges, brokers, or online platforms. Typically, investors deposit domestic currency into a digital wallet housing their private keys and currencies.

Can an AIF Raise Any Amount of Funds From the Investor? 

An  Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) may raise funds from any sophisticated investor, whether Indian, foreign or non-resident Indians. However, Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) cannot raise unlimited funds from investors. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has prescribed certain rules and regulations regarding the amount of funds an AIF in India can raise from investors. 

Therefore, for Category 1 AIF, Category 2 AIF, and Category 3 AIF, the AIF minimum investment, amount for an investor is 1 crore. However, for angel investors, the minimum investment is INR 25 lakhs.

Challenges of Investing in AIFs

While Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) offer various benefits and diversification opportunities, it’s essential to be aware of the challenges associated with investing in them. Understanding these challenges can help you make informed decisions and manage your investment effectively. Here are some of the key challenges you may encounter when investing in AIFs:

Risk and Volatility

AIFs often invest in non-traditional asset classes, such as private equity, venture capital, or distressed assets. These assets can be more volatile and carry higher risk compared to traditional investments like stocks and bonds.

Lack of Liquidity

Many AIFs have lock-in periods, meaning your capital is committed for a specific duration. During this period, you may not have easy access to your funds, which can be a challenge if you need liquidity.


AIFs can be complex investment vehicles with unique structures and strategies. Understanding how they operate and the potential risks involved can be challenging, especially for less experienced investors.

Regulatory Changes

The regulatory environment for AIFs can change over time, impacting their operations and tax treatment. Staying updated on regulatory changes is crucial to managing your investments effectively.

High Minimum Investments

Some AIFs require a significant minimum investment, which may limit access for smaller investors.

Performance Variability

AIF performance can vary widely based on the fund’s strategy and the manager’s skill. It’s essential to research and choose AIFs carefully to align with your investment goals.

While AIFs offer unique opportunities for diversification and potentially higher returns, they come with their set of challenges. It’s essential to carefully evaluate these challenges and consider your risk tolerance, investment goals, and financial situation before investing in Alternative Investment Funds.

Benefits of Investing in an Alternate Investment Fund

One of the well-known benefits of Alternative Investment Funds is they typically don’t correlate to the stock market. This means these alternative assets can diversify portfolios and help mitigate volatility. Want to know more? Read the following benefits. 

  • Diversification of Portfolio: AIFs invest in various assets, including real estate, private equity, commodities, and distressed assets. Alternative investments can help investors in portfolio diversification and reduce exposure to market volatility.
  • Potential for High Returns: Alternative Investment Funds India typically invest in high-risk, high-reward opportunities that can generate attractive returns. Some AIFs have the potential to generate higher returns than traditional investments such as stocks and bonds.
  • Access to Specialized Investment Opportunities: AIFs can provide access to specialized investment opportunities that are unavailable to retail investors. For example, AIFs that invest in startups and early-stage companies can provide exposure to innovative ideas and disruptive technologies.
  • Hedge Against Inflation: Some Alternative Investment Funds invest in assets such as commodities and real estate, which have historically performed well in inflationary environments. Investing in AIFs in India can hedge against inflation and help preserve the value of your investments.

To Wrap It Up…

Since many saving-account companies are switching to new investment approaches, there is a great scope to try portfolio investing and conventional alternative investments like Alternate Investment Funds (AIF). 

As backed by Preqin, a data intelligence provider, the overall market for alternative funds could grow to $14 trillion by 2023. This means the alternative investments could be an exciting opportunity to earn passive income in 2023. 

To conclude, as a wise investor, one could see alternative investments as a means of portfolio diversification rather than just a long-term plan.

So, for portfolio investing, try smallcase today!


1. What is alternative investment funds (AIF)?

Alternate Investment Fund or AIF means any Indian investment vehicle that collects funds from sophisticated investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing in accordance with a defined investment policy.

2. What is the AIF investment policy?

The AIF Regulations permit an AIF scheme to raise capital by issuing units to any investor, including Indian, foreign, or non-resident investors. An AIF can accept joint investments of at least Rs 1 crore from an investor and their spouse.

3. How Can AIFs Be Useful to Investors?

AIFs typically invest in non-traditional assets like startups. This provides diversification and potentially higher returns than traditional investments, thanks to their unique asset choices.

4. What Are the Guidelines and Regulations for Alternative Investments?

the SEC regulates alternative investment vehicles, they don’t require AIF registration for their securities. Consequently, most of these investment options are only accessible to institutions or affluent accredited investors.

5. Is AIF better than mutual fund?

AIFs usually offer lower liquidity than mutual funds. They impose lock-in periods and may limit liquidity options. In contrast, mutual funds provide easy access and high liquidity through daily NAV-based transactions.

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