Omidyar Network will invest $200 million in the next 4 years

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on June 13, 2018

Sets up a civic tech accelerator in partnership with Village Capital

Philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network will be investing over $200 million in India in the next four years to fund start-ups in areas such as civic tech, education and digital identity.

“We have so far deployed $250 million in India across all our initiatives. We’ll be investing about $55-60 million a year. Compared to a traditional fund, that translates to an equivalent of a $200-million fund over a four-year period. But we are not really constructed as a fund,” Roopa Kudva, Managing Director and Partner at Omidyar Network, told BusinessLine.

Omidyar has already invested in about 90 start-ups in India including not-for-profit organisations. Recently, the company invested in geospatial analytics start-up Transerve Technologies.

“Entrepreneur ecosystem in India is more positive today than its ever been. Therefore, we are seeing healthy pipeline of entrepreneurs across the board. India’s best minds are becoming entrepreneurs. Despite all of this, there are certain spaces where we see the pipeline of entrepreneurs really thin. And these are nascent sectors but we think these are at the cusp of a position to dramatically change because of the availability of low-cost smartphones and low-cost data. This will enable half-a-billion Indians to come online through their mobile,” Kudva said.

Kudva said the company sees this as an opportunity for the government to engage with citizens. “The entire gamut of civic tech is ripe for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Kudva said.

Civic tech

Omidyar Network is also launching its first civic tech Accelerator programme in India, in partnership with venture capital firm, Village Capital. This six-month accelerator will help entrepreneurs to develop solutions that tackle the country’s toughest problems across its civic and social sectors.

The selected ventures will receive support and training to hone their expertise, refine and improve their business models, and increase their scalability and impact. Omidyar plans to incubate about 10-12 early stage start-ups for the programme.

While civic tech is a growing sector across the globe, it is still at a nascent stage in India.

“Civic tech in India has emerged in India only in the past two-three years and that’s what we are trying to catalyse through this program,” said Deepak Menon, Regional Director, Emerging Markets, Village Capital.

Menon said there are a lot of challenges that these start-ups face in India including getting access to government tenders, which require a long track record which early stage start-ups don’t have. Secondly, government payments are often delayed that heavily impact the cash flow of these cash-strapped start-ups.

Published on June 13, 2018

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