iMerit Technologies Comments on British International Investment (BII)

Merit is a leading AI data solutions company providing high-quality data across computer vision, natural language processing, and content services that power machine learning and artificial intelligence applications for large enterprises. iMerit provides end-to-end data labeling services to Fortune 500 companies in a wide array of industries including agricultural AI, autonomous vehicles, commerce, geospatial, government, financial services, medical AI, and technology. iMerit employs more than 5,500 full-time data annotation experts in Bhutan, India, and the United States. Raising $23.5 million in funding to date, iMerit investors are British International Investment, Khosla Impact, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and Omidyar Network. For more information, visit


How do external events influence the investment decisions of BII (e.g., in response to the crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine, the depreciation of Sterling etc.)?

  1. While BII is a primary investor there are often situations evaluated and decisions made about use of existing funds and/or additional sponsorship for unexpected situational needs.  A good example was during the Covid crises and iMerits response to support employees, clients, and the broader community during this period.  
  2. iMerit quickly transitioned from a centralized data center approach where employees worked, to a fully supported work-from-home environment.  This change was substantial as it required everything from management training and technical skill development to physical infrastructure and support.  Employees, whom 75% are from a social impact background, needed their own computers, as well as IT and managerial support to use them effectively.  Some employees needed additional furniture to create a productive work environment at home and many required having connectivity brought into rural communities and homes to perform the technical functions required.  
  3. In addition to the physical aspects of this change, equal attention was spent on process and mental health.  It was important to provide the guidance, support, and programs to successfully navigate the transition.  This included such programs as: How to work from home and balance personal, family, and professional pressures; how to supervise and manage global teams in a distributed work-from-home employee base; and mental health programs to support the wellbeing of employees and their families during challenging times.
  4. BII was very active in helping determine the best course of action for the welfare of everyone impacted, both internally and externally. Amidst the transition to remote work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, BII also sponsored a workforce survey to better understand the needs of workers and to gather feedback about returning to work and continued adaptation to a remote working model in response to nationwide lockdowns in India and Bhutan. BII’s support made a significant contribution to the strategy iMerit implemented to address the Covid pandemic. The transition occurred quickly and effectively, employees and clients alike responded positively and were impressed with iMerits ability to overcome Covid.  While other companies furloughed employees, iMerit was able to grow in size and continue to have a positive impact on the broader communities at large. 


What due diligence does BII undertake prior to making investment decisions and how does this compare with best practices?

  1. As part of BII’s due diligence many areas of iMerit’s operations were reviewed and compared to IFC standards.  These ranged from indicators of financial success to cultural and societal impact, to the strength of its internal and external policies and procedures. BII’s in-depth assessments resulted in recommendations and development of an action plan aimed at strengthening iMerits environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework and improved management of its business portfolio. iMerit committed to the completion of the ESG portion of the action plan as a mandatory requirement of BII’s decision to invest in the company and met monthly with BII to review progress until the plan was complete.  Below are examples of categories in which specific action plan commitments were made:
  2. Management of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts:
    1. Environmental and Social Management system that assesses ESG risks and impacts, as well as monitoring and mitigation plans.
    2. Emergency preparedness and response.
    3. Life and safety policies, backed by regular audits and monitoring.
    4. External stakeholder engagement, including assessment of expansion strategies.
    5. Mechanisms for surfacing and responding to external complaints and whistleblowing.
    6. Global, national, and corporate ethical framework, along with the development and implementation of an AI Ethics Policy.
    7. Integrity awareness and training.
  3. Labor and Working Conditions:
    1. Corporate HR policies, including regular wage assessment and wage growth over time disaggregated by gender and impact background.
    2. Induction procedures and training.
    3. Supplier/contractor management.
    4. Anti-Harassment policies and procedures and training for handling internal complaints.
    5. Employment contracts.
  4. Resource efficiency and pollution prevention:
    1. Disposal of electronic waste.
  5. Portfolio Management:
    1. Succession planning and board composition.
    2. Sales and pricing strategy.
    3. US profile and geographic expansion.
    4. Domain expertise and managed services.
    5. Employee sourcing and training and workforce impact assessment.
    6. KPIs dashboards and reports.
    7. Cybersecurity and automated MIS system.
    8. Tech spend capitalization.
    9. Client contracts.
    10. Credits and share transfers.
    11. Regulatory risk management.


How effectively does BII manage funds following its initial investment?

  1. In addition to the monthly meetings BII held with iMerit to monitor and provide advice and support for completion of iMerit’s ESG and Portfolio Management plan, BII focused significant support and investment into two initiatives which have had a significant impact on iMerit’s mission to build an inclusive workforce:
  2. Supporting iMerit’s participation in the 2X Global challenge, BII made a significant contribution to iMerit’s programs to empower women to progress within the organization, deal with competing work/care roles, and protect them from workplace harassment. As of December 31 2022, 52% of current staff are women, reflecting iMerit’s adherence to the goals of BII’s 2X program as well as iMerit’s mission.
  3. 75% of iMerits workforce come from impact backgrounds.  BII makes significant contributions and investment in iMerit’s program to support its impact staff in acquiring the English language skills required to understand, interact and communicate with iMerit clients. 732 staff have graduated from the English Academy and as a result, 43% have moved up a level in English fluency as a result. In addition, 567 Team Leaders have attended the iMerit Leadership Academy to help them gain the skills necessary to advance their careers.
  4. On a broader scale, BII engages with iMerit through its membership in iMerit’s board of directors and its chairmanship of iMerit’s Ethics, Governance, and Impact (EGI) Board Committee and membership in the Human Capital and Audit Committees.
  5. The EGI committee meets quarterly and serves to advise the iMerit Board on ethical matters arising in the conduct of the iMerit’s business; strategic risks and opportunities linked to creating positive social and economic impact; and corporate governance aligned with international best practices. It assists the Board in its oversight of the implementation of company policies and procedures related to ethics, social impact, environmental, social and business integrity and governance. The Committee works to ensure iMerit is operating to the high ESG standards, building strong systems to govern impact risks and leveraging strategic opportunities to promote sustainable corporate development.
  6. The Human Capital Committee also meets quarterly and serves to assist the Board and management in development and oversight of compensation and human resources strategies and policies, with special attention on the company’s commitment to have a highly performing inclusive workforce including socio economic, gender and geographical distribution.
  7. The Audit Committee, also reporting to the Board on a quarterly basis, provides oversight of iMerit’s financial reporting and audit processes, its compliance with governmental laws and regulations, assesses the strength of its internal controls and recommends best practices for governance of the iMerit Group.
  8. BII’s participation in these committees has provided the guidance that has helped strengthen corporate governance and management of iMerit’s business portfolio.  For example, BII has provided advice and support for implementation of a KPI dashboard that tracks iMerit’s financial health through measures such as employee utilization, project profitability, and client retention.