IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE (Center for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship) has launched a $25 Mn Bharat Inclusion Initiative to incubate and seed-fund startups addressing India’s inclusion challenges through technology.
Bharat Inclusion Initiative aims to channelise approximately $25 Mn over the next three-four years towards backing game-changing startups leveraging the ongoing digital transformation in India to create access to services that were hitherto inaccessible for a large segment of Indians.
It has received an initial commitment of $12.5 Mn from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Omidyar Network. The investments include a $5 Mn commitment for providing catalytic support to startups through a series of acceleration programs, focused research, training workshops and piloting partnerships.
In addition, CIIE will also invest in seed and pre-Series-A startups through a dedicated Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund – which announced its initial closing at $7.5 Mn and is expected to make a final close at $15Mn by July, 2018.
Commenting on the development, Neharika Vohra, Chairperson, CIIE Initiatives said, “Empowering the entire country to participate in the formal economy is an important goal, and entrepreneurship is a powerful tool to achieve this. It is heartening to see the support for this initiative from all the partners.”
Furthermore, to enhance the learning of the entire ecosystem, all research, insights, knowledge and publications created under the program will be openly disseminated.
Through in-depth research to build knowledge about the underserved, incubating new startups in this space and providing access to soft and patient capital as these ventures take root, the Bharat Inclusion Initiative seeks to catalyse entrepreneurs who are building disruptive solutions for Bharat.
The programme is now inviting startups that use technology to enable inclusion, to apply for support.
On the development, Pawan Bakhshi, India Lead, Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said, “At Gates Foundation, we are committed to creating a disproportionate and sustained impact on some of the most critical challenges facing the nation today. In CIIE, we find a similar drive towards meeting some of these goals. We have together embarked on a mission to enable enhanced financial inclusion of the underserved segments of the society, by leveraging innovative technologies.”
CV Madhukar, Global Digital Identity Initiative Lead at Omidyar Network, also shared that the firm’s support to the seed fund will enable it to back entrepreneurs who are empowering the ‘next half billion’ Indians coming online with cost-effective and privacy-protecting business models.
In partnership with their mentors, corporates, development agencies, IIMA community and investors, CIIE cultivates a rare breed of entrepreneurs by incubating, accelerating, mentoring and funding innovative startups. It claims to have incubated and invested in over 50 innovative ventures across the high-tech sector.
Some of the other accelerators and incubators in Gujarat are MICA Incubator, ESpark Viridian Accelerator, NBDI (NID Incubator), International Centre of Entrepreneurship and Technology (ICreate), VentureStudio, Incube Ventures, IIT-Gandhinagar Incubator, DA-IICT Centre for Entrepreneurship and Incubation (DCEI) and the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED).
Other organisations that help support emerging startups in Gujarat include TiE Ahmedabad, eChai, HeadStart and the Startup Weekend. The state also boasts a number of coworking spaces such as CIIE’s Ideapad, Working Company and Regus.