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Unitus, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation back education loan startup Eduvanz
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Eduvanz Financing Pvt. Ltd, which provides loans to individuals for education and skill development, has announced a fundraise worth $2 million (Rs 13.8 crore at current exchange rate) from social-impact investment firm Unitus Ventures and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

VCCircle had first reported the fundraise being made in December last year.

The funds will be used to strengthen Eduvanz’s technology and expand its lending operations, said Varun Chopra, the lender’s co-founder and chief executive, in a statement.

Mumbai-based Eduvanz, which was launched by Chopra, Raheel Shah and Atul Sashittal in September 2016, provides loans to individuals to pursue any vocational degree or skill development course at any institute either recognised or in partnership with the company. Eduvanz has partnerships with more than 80 institutes such as Imarticus, K-11, and ISBM, boosting its value proposition beyond loans to offer placement and scholarship support for students.

Eduvanz has built a portfolio of Rs 12 crore with a borrower base of over 1,000 students, the statement said. 

The company aims to build a book size of more than Rs 100 crore and expand across India over the next two years. Eduvanz will also launch an artificial intelligence (AI)-led product -- Infra 2.0 -- for risk assessment, the statement said. The firm’s long-term vision is to offer loan products that will focus on supporting financial requirements for K-12 (kindergarten to twelfth grade), online skill development courses and professional courses, it added.

Srikrishna Ramamoorthy, partner, Unitus Ventures, said the investment was driven by Eduvanz’s differentiated approach of including training institutions, employers and the training course as part of the under-writing.

Deals in the space

The education financing space has seen some significant private equity and strategic transactions.

In April last year, homegrown private equity firm ChrysCapital led a Rs 350 crore ($55 million) Series C funding round in Bengaluru-based school finance company Thirumeni Finance Pvt. Ltd, which operates under the Varthana brand.

In another significant transaction in the space, Manappuram Finance Ltd agreed to acquire an 85.39% stake in Indian School Finance Company Pvt. Ltd (ISFC) for Rs 212.2 crore ($31 million) in July last year.

Hyderabad-based ISFC lends mainly to education service providers and other players such as book publishers, content companies as well as providers of computers, stationery, furniture and uniforms. It also offers education loans to students.

This deal, however, has run into a regulatory hurdle.

Other non-banking financial companies focusing on lending to educational institutions include Shiksha Financial Services India Pvt. Ltd and Auxilo Finserve Pvt. Ltd.

In December last year, Gray Matters Capital invested in GyanDhan, an education financing marketplace which has developed a proprietary model to assess the employability prospects of students for non-banking financial companies and banks to make education loan decisions.

Investor

Unitus Ventures, formerly known as Unitus Seed Fund, marked the first close of its second fund at Rs 100 crore ($15 million) by raising money from investors including Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. In April last year, the fund had set a target corpus of Rs 300 crore ($46 million).

The second fund’s investments include Predible, a cloud-based AI-driven solution for radiology, and Cyclops Medtech, a medical technology company.

Last month, Unitus Ventures led a seed funding in 

New Street Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which builds and operates blockchain-enabled platforms for institutional clients in the financial services segment.

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