New Initiative Seeks to Build India Ecosystem for Entrepreneurs Serving Large Low-Income Populations
September 2, 2014: San Francisco. Today at SOCAP14, Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) launched its India Impact Acceleration Program to help improve and accelerate the early-stage impact startup ecosystem across India in three ways: by increasing connections facilitated through “startup scouts” operating across India, working with leading incubators to help create more “venture capital-ready” startups that target low-income populations, and offering financial assistance to startups that make use of our existing Venture Advisor and Catapult Partner networks. Unitus’s new program is made possible in part through a global development agreement with the PACE group of USAID.
Expanding Venture Capital into India’s West, North and East Regions
India is exploding with entrepreneurial activity. But the venture capital and private equity transactions are heavily biased to the south, which claimed 55% of all private equity transactions by value in India in 2013. Impact startups serving low-income populations in sectors including education, healthcare, and livelihood enhancement have opportunities to serve the masses across the country. Yet again, the majority of venture startups funded today are in Bangalore and Chennai (boasting 70 transactions between them in 2013).
Startup Scouts, Incubator Partnerships, and Technical Assistance
As part of the India Impact Acceleration Program, Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund) will augment its team in Bangalore with 8-10 “startup scouts” in metros across the country, with the goal of increasing the number of venture-funded startups from beyond south India. At the same time, we are looking to partner with up to five of India’s best startup business incubators to help them train more entrepreneurs to build businesses that are attractive for venture capital investment. Finally, we’ll be providing financial assistance to startups that make use of our Venture Advisor (startup mentors and experts) and Catapult Partner (startup-oriented professional services firms) networks that provide mentoring, project-based consulting, and long-term engagements in a variety of areas, from corporate strategy to human resources to go-to-market planning.
“Within a year, we hope the India Impact Acceleration Program will result in our investing in at least three new startups operating in the west, north, or east and providing low-income populations with enhanced education, healthcare, improved livelihoods, and more,” said Will Poole, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Unitus Ventures (formerly Unitus Seed Fund). “We also expect the technical assistance offered from our program will help make established incubators and our existing portfolio companies stronger, scaling their impact and accelerating growth.”