Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman of Hero Enterprise, today announced that it has put in Rs 100 crore into Aavishkaar’s new fund, the Aavishkaar Bharat Fund. The focus of the fund will be on promoting grassroots entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, and employment. According to Sunil, in focusing on healthcare, employment, finance, and education and skills, the fund will look to address some of the main challenges the country faces.
This is also his endorsement of Aavishkaar’s entrepreneurship-based approach in tackling these issues with sustainable solutions. He added that at this stage in India’s evolution, it is important for rural areas and underprivileged citizens to become part of the main economy and get real opportunities and not "charity."
Aavishkaar claims to have made more than 50 investments across sectors and geographies including the low-income states. It has raised five funds, delivering commercial returns with a total of Rs 1,300 crore under management.
Sunil believes that currently, most of India’s development has taken place in urban areas and in medium and large enterprises. He feels this investment is their opportunity to provide support and help create prosperity at the bottom of the pyramid. Vineet Rai, Founder and CEO of Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group, believes that with this investment, Aavishkar can continue to build and scale enterprises that are working at the grassroots, while simultaneously impacting outcomes.
Aavishkaar was started in September 2001. In a conversation with YourStory, Vineet said that from 2001 to 2005, they were the only ones in this space in India.
“Though Acumen was started in 2002, they started investing in businesses around 2005–2006. Investing in microfinance became very attractive around 2006. Around 2009, Monitor started doing a study in the microfinance space. Later, institutions like Grassroots Business Fund and Elevar Equity started playing a role in this sector. Then slowly, a lot of players entered this space. Later, Sankalp became a critical storyteller in this space,” said Vineet.
Apart from investing Rs 100 crore into Aavishkaar Bharat fund, Hero Enterprise has recently invested in a host of startups and select e-commerce ventures that aim to capitalise on India’s rapidly evolving demographics. These investments are based on Sunil’s vision of building businesses and ventures that can become global in scale, promote entrepreneurship, are sustainable, have innovative business models and technologies, and embed principles of inclusive growth.
Sunil has also set up Serendipity Arts Foundation, which is tasked with promoting arts, crafts, and culture. This is being done by organising festivals across multiple disciplines and undertaking residency and education programmes in multiple arts disciplines. An attempt is also being made to help create lakhs of livelihoods by helping artisans with their craft and connecting them with markets. Aavishkaar Bharat Fund's interests converge with a number of these areas.