Bangalore-based startup Head Held High Services Pvt Ltd, a skills development and employment creation enterprise focused on rural India, has raised Rs 2.5 crore from a group of angel investors and others. Five angels including Pravin Gandhi, Jayesh Parekh, Reena Mithal, Prashant Thakker and Sanjeev Shah from Intellecap Impact Investment Network (I3N or I-cube-N) invested in the startup, as well as Unilazer Ventures Ltd, a private investment fund founded by Ronnie Screwvala, besides others.
The money raised will be used to scale up operations and ink partnerships for rural youth training programme over the next 12 months.
Head Held High puts rural youth through an intensive five-month residential training programme that converts them into English-speaking, computer-literate, knowledge professionals. Post training, they can work for BPOs, conduct market surveys and take up similar information-based services in non-urban locations across various sectors like agriculture, health, financial inclusion and education.
The startup is led by Madan Padaki, co-founder and executive chairman, and Rajesh Bhat, CEO of the company. Prior to starting Head Held High, Padaki also founded and sold MeritTrac, a career assessment company.
The company has also launched an entrepreneur forum that builds capacity for rural entrepreneurs. It claims to have trained over 800 young people till date in three districts across Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, generated jobs for 90 per cent of its trainees and created new business opportunities for more than 50 rural entrepreneurs. It aims to operate in 100 districts across India by 2018 and empower 2 million rural youths in the next 10 years.
Commenting on the development, Pravin Gandhi, one of the investors in Head Held High and an active PE investor in the technology space, said, “By attracting HNI capital, this model has the potential to bring unparalleled scale to impact investing. An enterprise like Head Held High has a stellar team, tremendous impact on the ground, as well as high likelihood of attracting follow-on rounds of funding, which make for a strong investment case.”
I3N includes more than 30 angels including HNIs, as well as early-stage funds, and is looking to add more active angels on the network this year.
I3N head Aditi Shrivastava said, “In addition to showcasing deals, a large part of our effort includes increasing the comfort level that HNIs have with the idea of investing into impact. We hold sectoral deep-dive sessions for HNIs to learn about deal activity and upcoming business models in impact sectors. We showcase highly impactful enterprises such as Head Held High and there is a strong pull from the angels, which is exactly what we want to see.”
Kolkata-based startup iKure Techsoft Pvt Ltd, which is into tech solutions for healthcare services delivery in rural areas, also raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding through the Intellecap Impact Investment Network in February this year.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)