Dutch investor FMO proposes funding for rural focus startup Dharma Life
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Dutch development bank FMO has proposed to invest 1.2 million euros (around $1.3 million or Rs 85 crore at current exchange rate) worth of debt in Dharma Life, which focuses on self-employment in rural India.

Dharma, owned and run by Gajam India Pvt. Ltd, imparts sales training to its recruits and provides them with products for sale to villagers.

It has a network of over 16,000 recruits who sell products such as solar lamps and induction cooking stoves to rural households.

The proposed funding will be converted into a guarantee that will back a working capital facility for Dharma. This facility will be used for purchasing solar energy and energy-efficient cookstoves.

According to its website, Dharma was set up in 2009 by Gaurav Mehta.

Apart from energy access and clean cooking, Dharma Life’s programmes focus on menstrual hygiene and family planning, livelihood and job creation, nutrition, general sanitation and digital empowerment.

FMO’s India bets

FMO, like the Washington-based International Finance Corporation, is one of the most active global investment institutions in India. 

It finances projects through both equity and debt instruments and makes limited partner-style bets on alternative investment funds.

Earlier this month, it proposed to invest up to $30 million (Rs 222 crore) in Bengaluru-based Vistaar Financial Services Pvt. Ltd. 

In December, FMO proposed an additional equity investment of 1 million euros ($1.1 million or Rs 7.9 crore) in Orb Energy Pte. Ltd, a solar photovoltaic and solar thermal solutions provider. 

In November, FMO invested $30.3 million in CreditAccess Grameen Ltd, which operates a microlending business under the Grameen Koota brand.

At the end of October, it proposed a $40 million debt investment in Ess Kay Fincorp Ltd. 

Some of its other bets include a debt investment of $30 million in Kolkata-based Srei Equipment Finance Ltd and Nomisma Mobile Solutions Pvt. Ltd, which owns digital payments and loans platform Ftcash.

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