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Omidyar to invest in projects, startups to tackle coronavirus
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Omidyar Network India Advisors Pvt. Ltd, the domestic arm of the US-based impact investment firm, has committed $1 million (Rs 7.5 crore) to fund proposals aimed at tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Mumbai-based Omidyar Network India said in a statement it has invited proposals in the range of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 2 crore and will target several kinds of funding initiatives.

Institutions that can apply include research organisations, non-governmental firms, social entrepreneurs and for-profit businesses looking to implement their proposals on a not-for-profit basis, it added.

Initiatives that will be considered include data and application-led technological solutions, community outreach and mobilisation campaigns, small business worker-focussed programmes, actionable research initiatives and collaborative efforts by stakeholders such as foundations, philanthropies, impact investors and venture capital firms.

The funding programme will give priority to technology-based scalable solutions, initiatives with a quick turnaround time especially ones that can benefit Indians in lower-income segments. It will also give priority to proposals that have already gained traction, such as completed pilot programmes.

Omidyar Network India makes equity investments in early-stage enterprises and provides grants to non-profits in sectors such as digital identity, education, emerging technologies, financial inclusion and property rights.

Some of its portfolio companies include Credenc Web Technologies Pvt. Ltd, refurbished two-wheeler reseller CredR, and wound-care-focussed medical-technology startup Axio Biosolutions Pvt. Ltd.

The spread of the virus in India – the world’s second-most populous country – has had a massive impact not only on the movement of people within the country but also on the flow of goods and capital.

Stock markets have swung into volatility, with both the Sensex and the Nifty having their lower circuits twice this month. At least 75 districts across India are under lockdown to tackle the coronavirus.

The impact is being felt by the larger investment ecosystem in the country as well. For example, investment bankers that VCCircle has spoken to say that valuations, public market offerings and secondary market transactions have all taken a hit in the wake of the pandemic. Law firms are also devising legal avenues that may be able to help companies seeking to navigate the disrupted regulatory and business environment.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Narendra Modi-led government would soon announce a fiscal package to help the broader economy face the impact of the coronavirus. Sitharaman has relaxed some tax compliance rules for individuals and firms and has also raised the threshold of triggering insolvency cases.

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