Soros announces $17 mn for Indian SMEs | business | Hindustan Times
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Soros announces $17 mn for Indian SMEs

The SEDF, Omidyar Network and Google.org plan to locate an Investment Advisor at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad to leverage the school's small and medium enterprise expertise. Shalini Narang tells us.

business Updated: Feb 22, 2008 23:55 IST
Shalini Narang

The Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), Omidyar Network, and Google.org announced a new $17 million Small to Medium Enterprise Investment Company for India to create job opportunities and spur greater economic participation for a large segment of the population. This joint company will provide capital to small and medium businesses in underserved markets.

"With this investment, we will meet the huge demand to serve smaller businesses in India that have little access to finance. Long ignored by commercial capital markets, small and medium businesses are an attractive investment opportunity as well as an engine for economic growth for India." said Neal DeLaurentis, Vice President of Soros Economic Development Fund.

Many small to medium Indian businesses lack formal funding options because of a market gap between the micro loans offered by microfinance institutions and the larger investments of commercial banks and private equity funders. Most of the existing Small to Medium Enterprise funds makes investments in the $3-$5 million range, leaving out a significant portion of this market. The Investment Company will target this "missing middle" with equity investments between $500,000 and $3.5 million.

"We have seen what micro loans can do at the individual level and are excited about bringing that same opportunity to small and medium businesses. A new generation of entrepreneurs and their families will benefit economically and socially, and as their enterprises grow, these benefits can be shared with employees and their families, as well as the community at large," said Jim Bunch, Director of Investments at Omidyar Network.

"While small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in rich countries represent half of GDP, they account for a much lower portion in developing economies like India, partly because SMEs don't have access to the same type of financing. Our goal is to increase the flow of capital to SMEs in India. This is an important step in helping to attract commercial capital and reduce dependency on philanthropy or soft capital to fund this industry." said Sonal Shah of Google.org.

SEDF, Omidyar Network and Google.org plan to locate an Investment Advisor at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad to leverage the school's small and medium enterprise expertise. Dr. Reuben Abraham, currently the Indian School of Business's Director of the Base of Pyramid Lab aSEDF, Omidyar Network and Google.org plan to locate an Investment Advisor at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad to leverage the school's small and medium enterprise expertisend a board member of SEDF, will be named Senior Advisor.

The Investment Company will hire an experienced Investment Advisor and two experienced senior investment analysts based in India to recommend and build the pipeline of portfolio investments.

The Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) is a nonprofit private foundation created by investor and philanthropist George Soros. Established in 1997, the fund's mission is to alleviate poverty and community deterioration.

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm committed to building opportunities for individuals. Established by Pamela and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, Omidyar Network supports nonprofit and for-profit efforts that enable people around the world to improve their lives and make powerful, lasting contributions to their communities.

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, uses the power of information and technology to help people improve their lives. They develop and invest in tools and partnerships that bring shared knowledge to the world's most pressing challenges in the areas of climate change, economic development and global health.