Keeping in mind the lacklustre venture capital funding scenario in India this year, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation has set up a $50 million fund for investing in Indian startups. This will be in addition to its already active impact investment fund called India Educational Investment Fund.
We are increasingly finding that the venture capital space is struggling to get money and ventures in areas of our interest are even more starved.
said Debasish Mitter, country director-India at MSDF who while announcing that a large part of $50 million fund will be used for investing in startups.
The new fund will focus on making direct investments in early stage startups in the country. The foundation is also planning to diversify its offerings to ventures. Presently it provides grants, equity financing, debt and non-convertible debt offerings.
MSDF foundation is a popular philanthropic and impact investor globally. It typically focuses on areas related to education, skill development, and financial inclusion.
Through its India Educational Investment Fund(IEIF), the firm has made number of investments in ed tech ventures such as Report Bee, iSTAR Skill development, Guru G Learning Labs with the most recent investment being in online test preparation startup Oliveboard.
As a limited partner, Michael And Susan Dell Foundation also recently backed two early-stage funds namely Unitus Seed Fund and Menterra Venture Advisors, which was launched by social business incubator Villgro.
However, the foundation still finds it difficult to get deals of its interest according to Mitter. He said,
We feel there is a tremendous fit between a venture philanthropist approach to seed funding and what the space needs… And what can be better than philanthropist organisations that aren’t shy to put its capital at stake in a venture philanthropic manner.
He further added that they were willing to take any investment tool which could support the requirement of solving the business problems in the best way.