IFC commits $3 mn to pi Ventures’ maiden VC fund
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International Finance Corporation (IFC) plans to invest $3 million (about Rs 20 crore) in Bengaluru-based early-stage venture fund pi Ventures, the World Bank’s private-sector arm said on Wednesday.

IFC’s equity investment will not exceed 20% of total commitments, it said in a disclosure.

The VC firm aims to raise $30-40 million for its maiden fund and had hit first close earlier this month at $13 million.

The World Bank arm said the investment is through the IFC Startup Catalyst programme and is intended to support local innovation and entrepreneurship. Through the programme, IFC invests in sustainable seed-stage funding mechanisms, including accelerators and seed funds, to support early-stage local entrepreneurship globally.

IFC has both a direct investment practice and indirect exposure to Indian firms as a Limited Partner (LP) to local PE and VC funds.

Pi Ventures will invest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things-enabled companies focused on healthcare, smart cities, fintech, retail, cybersecurity, logistics and enterprise automation across India. Its maiden fund plans to invest in 18-20 ventures over three to four years.

The fund has raised capital from technology entrepreneurs such as former Infosys CFO and Aarin Capital chairman TV Mohandas Pai, Flipkart’s Binny Bansal, MakeMyTrip’s Deep Kalra, Info Edge’s Sanjeev Bikchandani and angel investor Bhupen Shah, among others. It has also received capital from Small Industries Development Bank of India, besides family offices from the US, Canada, Singapore and India.

The VC firm was co-founded by Manish Singhal, founder of online funding platform LetsVenture, and Vimagino co-founder Umakant Soni. It has so far made three investments in the healthcare and energy-efficiency space—SigTuple, Zenatix and ten3T.

Several early-stage funds are being raised in the country in an indication of better investment scenario for startups in the coming months. Recently, the Indian Angel Network’s eponymous IAN Fund marked its first close, receiving commitment from investors within the network as well as high-net-worth individuals overseas. One of the largest early-stage funds around, the IAN Fund will focus on sectors such as e-commerce, semi-conductors, gaming and robotics.

At least 26 venture funds came up in India last year, according to VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle.

Early-stage funds launched last year include Ideaspring Capital, WaterBridge Ventures, Pravega Ventures and Stellaris Venture Partners.

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