Social startup Haqdarshak secures angel funding, $2 mn commitment

Bangalore-headquartered Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a tech-enabled social enterprise, has raised close to Rs 1.25 crore ($191,000) in angel funding from a clutch of investors, including WonderChef managing director Ravi Saxena and former Infosys executive Sandeep Raju.

Besides, for its pre-Series A funding round, the startup has secured in-principle commitment from three social impact investors to raise as much as Rs 13.1 crore ($2 million), a top company official told VCCircle.

“Overall, the social impact space is very interesting...but it’s both a boon and bane. Unlike commercial enterprises, where you are valued to sales and revenues projections, we are pushed to be sustainable from day one. Social enterprises don’t give 20x returns. From day one, our investors push for sustainability and we are doing that,” says Aniket Doegar, co-founder and CEO, Haqdarshak.

Prominent social impact investors in India include names like Omidyar Network, Acumen Fund, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) and Lok Capital. According to a report by McKinsey & Co. in November last year, impact investing in the country has the potential to grow to $6-8 billion by 2025 from the $1-billion worth of investments recorded in 2015.

Haqdarshak, incorporated in January last year, runs a proprietary mobile/tablet-based application that has a complete database of relevant government and non-government schemes available to the underserved. The app, which is multi-lingual and can work even without Internet connectivity, screens candidates by asking 15-20 questions, gauging their eligibility for a particular scheme. The startup's ground personnel, Haqdarshaks, help people in understanding the schemes as well as collating the required documents. They charge a fee of Rs 40-250 for this, of which 25% goes to the company.

Besides angel funding, Haqdarshak has so far received Rs 7 lakh in grants. It has won several awards, including ICT-led Social Innovation by Youth Innovators, Nasscom Social Innovation Forum, 2016, and Anthah:Prerna 2015, an initiative of TiE Bangalore.

Haqdarshak currently covers 1,500 schemes and is present in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, among other states. It intends to expand to 10 states and house 5,000 schemes over the next one year. Some of the government schemes it works with include names like Ladli (a Delhi government initiative to empower girls by linking financial assistance with their education) and Apki Beti, Hamari beti (an initiative by the Haryana government to offer a one-time grant of Rs 21,000 to SC families whose first girl is born on or after 22 January 2015).

Haqdarshak is also involved with the private sector, such as with Google and Tata Trusts' 'Internet Saarthi' initiative that aims to educate women in rural areas. Its other partner organisations include RajCOMP Info Services Ltd, Save the Children and Basix.

Investments in social enterprises in India trail those in commercial ventures by a margin.

Last month, Bangalore-based LetsEndorse Development Pvt. Ltd, which runs online network for social causes LetsEndorse, raised an undisclosed amount from Chandigarh Angels Network, Tata Trusts-backed Social Alpha and other unnamed angel investors.

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