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Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group raises USD 25 Million from Triodos Investment Management and Shell Foundation

The name of our organization – Aavishkaar -means ‘invention’ in Hindi. Founded in 2001, with a vision to catalyse development in India’s underserved regions, it identifies capable entrepreneurs, provides them with capital, supplements it with a nurturing environment and helps build sustainable enterprises.

Aavishkaar’s big innovation is the adoption of venture capital methodology to serve the low_income market segment by creating scalable enterprises. Aavishkaar’s founding team faced the challenge of modifying the investing methodology followed in the Silicon Valley. Funding in the Valley typically focused on new technologies and breakthroughs in intellectual property. Back home, Aavishkaar had to adapt it to brick and mortar, investing in hinterland and rural geographies with a target clientele that had a tiny wallet. At the same time, reasonable returns had to be delivered to investors. This meant that Aavishkaar with its limited capital and resources had to find a large number of start_up companies scattered across underdeveloped regions and then invest small amounts of capital in them.

To adapt to this reality, Aavishkaar brought in 3 key innovations to venture capital investing:

  • Moving the investment risk from technology and product innovation to innovation in execution. This allowed us to focus on the needs of the people. This also increased our success ratio at the enterprise-level, despite the perceived high-risk of early_stage investing and geographical dispersion.
  • Redefining the parameters of blockbuster success -a return of 5 to 10 times of invested capital, instead of a return of 100 times.
  • Identifying young and experienced investment managers driven by passion, social recognition and fulfilment in work, remunerating them in an equitable and non_hierarchical manner, thus building a large team with limited fee, and no grant support.

Aavishkaar is driven by the belief that an ‘enterprise _based development approach can enhance livelihoods and reduce vulnerabilities for the low-income population. Fortified with all these, Aavishkaar has moved on the path of investing in enterprises that gainfully engage rural and economically - weak populations either as producers, users or owners to deliver commercial returns. At the same time, significant developmental returns have been brought about.

Over the last decade, Aavishkaar has established a successful track record with over US$ 155 million under management and a diverse portfolio of high – impact businesses at various levels of growth. This spans a range of sectors, namely agriculture, dairy, education, energy, handicrafts, health, water and sanitation, technology for development, microfinance and financial inclusion.

Over the years, we have matured as an organization and recognized our strengths, regarding our work in India. We have also started to look at other emerging economies around the world as the next logical focus area for Aavishkaar. As part of its growth plans, Aavishkaar has launched its first international foray with the Aavishkaar Frontier Fund, dedicated to taking the Aavishkaar model of investing to neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Our 10-year goal is to invest in 300 start-up companies across emerging economies with significant low_income populations, nurture latent local entrepreneurial talent, and promote enterprise_based development in these countries, thus helping them achieve sustainable and equitable economic growth. To achieve these goals, Aavishkaar aims to raise US$1.0 billion over the next ten years.