Accion is a Boston based non-profit that has a $10 million fund (Venture Lab) to invest in innovative financial inclusion start-ups. In a recent announcement, Venture Lab has invested in Bangalore based Varthana.
Founded by Steve Hardgrave and Brajesh Mishra, Varthana provides loans and support to affordable private schools. Varthana partners with those education entrepreneurs who have a sense of urgency about improving access to quality education in low-income communities. These entrepreneurs are usually (not always) ex-educators themselves, who have spent time teaching children in the neighborhood and have then slowly expanded to start a school. They are driven by their mission to provide a robust education, often far superior to the government alternatives.
Varthana’s loans are custom-built to suit the wide range of projects that helps one take a school to the next level of quality, infrastructure and access.
Venture Labs will help Varthana in the following ways (Venture Lab’s investment thesis):
- Investment: Typically invest U.S. $100,000 to $500,000 in equity or quasi-equity instruments, depending on the circumstances.
- Support: Venture Lab prefers to be an active investor and bring to bear the people and resources of the global Accion network to maximize the chance of success. In addition to day-to-day support from the Venture Lab team, investee companies may get connected to Accion’s in-house technical experts (technology, risk management, etc.), microfinance teams and customers from partner institutions around the world, and the global banking and investing community.