School financier Varthana raises $3 mn from MSDF
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Bengaluru-based school finance company Thirumeni Finance Pvt. Ltd, which operates under the Varthana brand, has raised $3 million (Rs 20 crore) from Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Thirumeni Finance will use the money to expand its school transformation programme – an initiative aimed at improving the quality of learning in affordable private schools.

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation contributed the money through an innovative pay-for-performance debt facility, which will reward participating schools for improving student learning outcomes, the company said.

The non-banking finance company had earlier proposed to raise $10 million for its school transformation programme, which would allow Varthana to provide debt financing, high-quality assessments, hands-on support, curated vendor connections, and financial rewards – all collectively aimed at driving learning improvements across the 337 participating schools in five states. The programme is expected to benefit over 200,000 learners.

“The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is committed to improving the educational outcomes of children living in urban poor households. Increasingly poor families in urban areas are enrolling their children in affordable private schools with the hope that they would get access to a high-quality education. The foundation will work with Varthana to ensure that we support and help school leaders to focus on the key drivers of improvement,” said Rahil Rangwala, program director, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Since it was founded in 2013, Varthana has served over 3,000 schools spread across 11 states, and impacted over two million students, said Varthana co-founder and CEO Steve Hardgrave.

In 2016, the company had raised Rs 93 crore in a Series B round led by Kaizen Private Equity and Zephyr Peacock India. Its existing investors, Elevar Equity, LGT Venture Philanthropy and Omidyar Network have also participated in the current round.

It had previously raised seed and Series A capital from institutional investors, including Accion, Elevar Equity, LGT Venture Philanthropy and Omidyar Network, besides individual investors such as Genpact founder and vice chairman Pramod Bhasin, and Asha Impact founder Vikram Gandhi.

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