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ACT targets ₹500 crore fundraise to tackle societal problems beyond Covid-19

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on March 04, 2021

Will now focus on education, environment, healthcare and women’s participation in the workforce

ACT, a first-of-its-kind movement by start-up founders, leaders and VCs from India’s start-up ecosystem, on Thursday announced its plans to raise a ₹500 crore philanthropic fund to back solutions addressing societal problems at scale across four key areas - Education, Healthcare, Environment and Women’s participation in the workforce.

ACT was launched in March 2020 with a ₹100 crore grant with three core objectives: To award grants to tech-driven companies that can scale against Covid-19. To connect companies with relevant products and solutions to local, State, National governments, and NGOs fighting the pandemic.

To help grantees scale by bringing together networks, start-ups and additional grants as a force multiplier. In phase one, ACT was able to fund 54 start-ups and 100+ projects, impacting 49 million lives across 27 States. In phase two, funds will be deployed in the following areas:

ACT for Healthcare

Partnering and enabling the government’s vision for building a future-ready healthcare system, ACT has curated the framework across primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare levels. ACT will take a systemic approach while deep-diving into four specific disease verticals enabling access, quality and affordability.

These include communicable diseases, with focus on tuberculosis detection and monitoring; non communicable diseases directed towards cancer and mental health; and developing medical products and technology. With an aim to raise ₹50 crore, this segment will be spearheaded by Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and Managing Director, Nexus Venture Partners & Investment Committee Member, ACT in close partnership with Shekhar Kirani, Partner, Accel & Investment Committee Member, ACT.

ACT for Education

The fund aims to achieve its goals through investments in EdTech products and platforms to improve access to and uptake of quality learning for the bottom three economic quartiles of India’s population.

The ₹100 crore fund of which ₹50 crore has been raised will work towards two key areas - reducing learning poverty to 15 per cent (down from 55 per cent presently) in India over the next ten years; and to ensure that solutions focusing on building social-emotional and work readiness skills impact 60 per cent of India's children.

The vertical will be led by Ashish Dhawan, Founder and Chairman, Central Square Foundation (CSF) & Ashoka University and Mekin Maheshwari, Founder, Udhyam Learning Foundation & Investment Committee Member, ACT.

ACT for Environment

The fund will support organisations working towards market adoption and mainstreaming of market-tested innovations, with a measurable environmental benefit and an ability to be a force multiplier in the four areas of Air, Water, Waste and Land.

The segment will be led by GV Ravishankar, Managing Director, Sequoia India & Investment Committee Member, ACT and Prashant Prakash, Founding Partner, Accel & Investment Committee Member, ACT.

Plans are to raise a ₹100 crore fund of which ₹50 crore will be raised in the first phase with the goal to increase water security, improve air quality, waste management and land rejuvenation. The fund targets disbursing the first grant as early as April 2021.

ACT for Women

The initiative is committed to working on gender equality practices which are vital to economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. The aim is to make the ecosystem (of startups and VCs) more inclusive, and increase the participation of women in the workforce, and in decision making roles. ACT for Women will focus across five key areas:

  • Launch a report on women’s participation in the start-up and corporate workplace (2021)
  • Provide mentors for women working in start-ups/venture capital
  • Create opportunities for fresh college graduates by providing internships and mentorship
  • Adopt a return to work program for women on career breaks
  • Identify and fund ideas for solving systemic challenges, thus making it easier for women to work.

The segment will be led by Suman Gopalan, CHRO Freshworks & Investment Committee Member, ACT.

Published on March 04, 2021

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