Silicon Valley impact investment firm, Omidyar Network, which was founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, plans to invest close to $250 million in Indian startup ventures and organizations over the next four-to-five years, reported LiveMint today.
In an interview to LiveMint, Omidyar India partner and managing director Roopa Kudva said the firm will look to enter new areas and sectors such as citizen-focused legal services, property rights and public platforms.
In India, Omidyar has its existence for about 10 years, has invested roughly $250 million in about 90 startups in India including not-for-profit organisations. Startps it has invested in so far includes Quikr, 1MG and RailYatri.in among others. Notably, 70% of these investments are equity-based while the rest are grants.
Omidyar is also an investor in CIIE, IIM Ahmedabad advised Bharat Inclusive Technologies Seed Fund.
“We are not like a fund—we are not structured like a fund. We don’t operate like a typical VC (venture capital) fund, but if you think of us as a fund, we typically do $50-60 million (of investments) in India every year. It’s about a $200-250 million fund going forward,” said Kudva, who also serves as an independent director on the board of Infosys, among others.
Kudva further said “One way to look at us is like a $250-million fund which does about 30% in grants and the rest of it in equity investments. We expect to continue down that path with a fund of that size. The implications are continue with early stage, look for capital-light models and look for potential to scale.”
With sectors such as content and education technology becoming increasingly mainstream, Omidyar plans to back promising companies in those businesses.
“If we look at ed-tech, we’ve identified a white space in ed-tech and that white space is Series A. It’s not Series B, not seed. We don’t want to be a seed investor because every year, some 600 ed-tech firms get funded… We think people are willing to come in once a company is ready for a Series B. That I think is our sweet spot,” said Kudva.
Established in 2004, Omidyar is a self-styled “philanthropic investment firm,” composed of a foundation and an impact investment firm. It has committed more than US$1.3 billion to nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies across multiple investment areas, including Consumer Internet & Mobile, Education, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights, according to Omidyar website.
Late last month, on a panel at SOCAP on the impact investing landscape in India, Kudva said, “India’s time for impact investing has never been better than it is today. On the one hand, we’re seeing an ecosystem for entrepreneurs which has never been as conducive as it is today, whether it be in terms of the funding available, the quality of talent, or government support. And on the other hand, you have the drivers of social impact, which are gathering greater momentum. You have more people with access to a mobile phone, you have a rapidly increased number of bank accounts in the country, a new skilling policy. So the combination of the two … is creating a sweet spot for impact investing in India today.”
To recall, in May this year Omidyar Network had supported ‘Bharat Inclusion Initiative’, which is a $25 million seed fund by CIIE of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) that aims to mentor and invest in early stage tech startups over the next three-four years.
In March, Omidyar invested $1 million in Healofy, a women-centric, multilingual parenting social network based out of Bangalore. This was followed by undisclosed amount of investment in a Series B round of funding in Noida-based RailYatri, a train-travel app startup backed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani.
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