Chennai-based social business incubator, Villgro, has completed its first round of fundraising for Menterra Venture Advisors, an impact fund launched for making early-stage investments in startups working in the agriculture, energy, education, healthcare and skilling sectors, reported ET.
The funds have been raised from the Lemelson Foundation, which has put in $2 Mn (INR 13 Cr) and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, who invested $1.5 Mn (INR 10.5 Cr). The two foundations will work closely with Menterra to impart education and skill training to the fund’s portfolio startups.
Geeta Goel who is responsible for leading the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation’s global Mission Investing function said, “The Foundation may participate as a direct investor in selected portfolio companies of Menterra at the Series A funding stage. Besides, the foundation will work closely with Menterra in diagnostic and support of the fund’s portfolio companies in education and skill training, assessing and improving their quality levels and leveraging connections with the rest of its portfolio companies.”
Founded in August last year by Mukesh Sharma, Paul Basil and PR Ganapathy, Menterra’s other backers include Chandu Nair (co-founder -Scope eKnowledge Center) and Meenakshi Ramesh of Pratham Education Foundation. Menterra will have an independent investments committee, which will include Kanwaljit Singh of Fireside Ventures, Vijay Mahajan (founder & CEO – BASIX Social Enterprise group) and Mukesh Sharma of Villgro.
The fund will be an even split between institutional and individual investors and plans to invest in 20 companies in the next five years. It will invest upto $450K in each company.
According to PR Ganapathy, co-founder and advisor, Menterra Venture Advisors is expected to have a total corpus of $6 Mn (INR 40-50 Cr) by the time it makes its final close in March 2017. He further added, “Funds in this space have shied away from high risk ideas which have a long product development cycle. Menterra is a result of the desire to have a facility by which hard working entrepreneurs who have taken early-stage grant capital and done some good work with product development can get the next tranche of funding in equity and make ideas a reality.”