IIMA centre unveils $25 million initiative to fund start-ups

Source: LiveMint.com, May 15, 2018

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s (IIMA’s) centre for innovation, incubation, and entrepreneurship (CIIE) on Monday launched a $25 million ‘Bharat Inclusion Initiative’ that will look to mentor and invest in start-ups in the early stage and seed segment over the next three-four years.

The initiative received an initial pledge of $12.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and Omidyar Network, IIMA said in a statement on Monday.

CIIE’s ‘Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund’ has set aside $22.5 million to invest in pre-Series A technology start-ups. The fund announced its initial close at $7.5 million and is expected to make a final close at $15 million by July. The fund will look at start-ups in areas such as financial inclusion, livelihood, education, agriculture, and health.

In addition, CIIE will devote $5 million for providing strategic mentorship to startups through a series of acceleration programmes, workshops and business partnerships. All research, insights, and publications produced under the programme will be openly disseminated, added CIIE.

“The Bharat Inclusion Initiative aims to provide a continuum of solutions to inclusion-focused tech entrepreneurs across the pre-incubation, seed and scale-up stage and help them jump to the next orbit. It is heartening to see the support for this initiative from all the partners,” said Neharika Vohra, chairperson, CIIE Initiatives.

According to Santhosh Ramdoss, director, India programmes, at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, a large portion of urban poor families in India do not have any formal access to financial services. “We are presented with a landmark opportunity to take on this challenge, given India’s leadership in building a cutting-edge public technology infrastructure that can be used to seamlessly deliver a variety of critical digital services to low-income families,” said Ramdoss in a statement.

CIIE was founded to support entrepreneurs and turn business ideas into viable businesses models. It partners with industry experts, mentors, corporates, IIMA community and investors to help incubate early-stage start-ups.

In the past, CIIE incubated start-ups such as Razorpay, Hashcube, Rolocule, and Thrillophilia. Apart from tech start-ups, CIIE also works with early-stage companies in the agri-tech segment.

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