Gates, Dell, Omidyar Pledge $12.5 Million for Startups in India

Gates, Dell, Omidyar Pledge $12.5 Million for Startups in India

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), and Omidyar Network have made initial commitments totaling $12.5 million to an initiative aimed at supporting startups in India, Livemint reports.

Launched by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad's Centre for Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), the Bharat Inclusion Initiative will provide investments totaling $25 million in pre-Series A tech startups over the next three or four years. CIIE's Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund is expected to close with $22.5 million by July — with the funds to be invested in organizations working in areas such as financial inclusion, livelihood, education, agriculture, and health. In addition, CIIE will spend $5 million on providing strategic mentorship to startups through a series of acceleration programs, workshops, and business partnerships.

"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," said Neharika Vohra, chair of CIIE Initiatives. "It is heartening to see the support for this initiative from all the partners."

According to Santhosh Ramdoss, director of India programs at MSDF, a large portion of poor urban families in India have no formal access to financial services. "We are presented with a landmark opportunity to take on this challenge," said Ramdoss, "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."

(Photo credit: Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad)