Social investment firm Aavishkaar infuses $3M in Mela Artisans

Aavishkaar Venture Management, a venture capital firm focused on India’s rural areas and bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) space, has infused Rs 18.6 crore (around $3 million) into luxury apparel, jewellery, home furnishing and accessories brand Mela Artisans.

US-based US-based Mela Artisans, which procures products from artisans groups in Indian states like Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan among others, will utilise the money to augment its distribution channels in India and overseas, and grow its collections and reach out to a wider range of artisans in India, according to The Economic Times which first reported the deal.

“Mela was a compelling investment with its rare combination of established industry relationships with international retailers, significant backward linkages with artisan groups and excellent design capabilities culminating in an extremely competitive product,” the paper said quoting Noshir Cola, partner at Aavishkaar.

Founded in 2010 by India-origin entrepreneurs Navroze Mehta and Sonali Mehta-Rao, Mela has launched its collections with a number of high-end retail boutiques and chains, including, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, across the US, Europe and Latin America. It also retails through its website.

As per SEC disclosures, Mela Artisans had last year raised around $1 million from close to 20 investors.

The social venture capital firm Aavishkaar injected the money in Mela Artisans from its second impact investment fund called Aavishkaar II. The $94 million fund invests in the range of Rs 3 crore to Rs 50 crore in early stage ventures operating in the low-income states like Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Aavishkaar has recently made investments in companies namely HR Foods, CAOS Apparels, Mera Doctor and pre-school venture Nalanda Learning Systems.

This would be its second bet in the lifestyle apparel space after CAOS, which is into organic apparel business.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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