NOVEMBER 17, 2014 : BENGALURU: Social enterprise incubator Villgro has invested in seven start-ups, marking its second set of funding this fiscal.This takes Villgro’s investment and incubation portfolio to 10 companies.

Kamal Kisab, Flybird Innovations, VectorDoc, SustainEarth, SkillTrain, MicroX Labs and Bempu, all early-stage companies, have secured funding in the range of Rs 10-15 lakh. All seven start-ups have prototypes of products that will be ready for the market over the next six-nine months. “Most funding will be used for finishing touches to product and take it to market,” said P R Ganapathy, chief operating officer, Villgro.

Villgro will also provide mentoring, access to relevant networks and talent to help these companies-—which are working in healthcare, energy, agriculture and education— execute and grow.
“We will use funding for field and market research, go-to-market strategy,” said Prabhat Kumar, co-founder, MicroX Labs, makers of an automatic and portable blood cell for CVC test. The company plans to hit the market next year and will launch in low-income states starting with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, targeting small diagnostic centres.

By end of this fiscal, Villgro plans to incubate and invest in 25-30 companies. Of these, 11 companies are from The Arthur Venture Challenge platform, which have engaged Villgro to provide incubation support only. The balance is being funded solely by Villgro.

Additionally, Villgro is launching a social impact fund with a corpus of Rs 20 crore by March 2015 as reported by ET in September. It has now sought the formal commitment of Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which has invested an undisclosed amount in the fund. “Michael & Susan Dell Foundation’s support for Villgro’s new social impact investment fund is part of its strategy to catalyse mission-aligned, market-based solutions for the urban poor in India.

Alongside the investment in the fund, part of our funding support will also enable Villgro to incubate and provide seed funding to at least a dozen companies (or ideas) that are focused on enhancing learning levels for school-going children or improving employability and income levels of youth from urban lowincome families in India,” said Geeta Goel, director, Mission Investing, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

The foundation’s money will be earmarked for education and vocational training companies, Ganapathy said.