Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment vehicle of financial inclusion leader Accion, has successfully exited an investment for the first time. Venture Lab has sold its stake in Varthana, a company providing specialized loans and support to affordable private schools in India, promoting access to and the quality of education for India’s poor and emerging middle class.
Venture Lab led the first institutional investment round in Varthana in May 2013. As of August 2016, with Venture Lab’s active support, Varthana has supported more than 2,000 schools, 38,000 teachers, and one million students, and has disbursed more than $35 million to schools that serve lower and middle income Indians.
“Varthana has reached great heights as an innovative financial services operator in India, and we are honored to have been a part of the company’s success since the beginning,” said Venture Lab Managing Director Vikas Raj. “Since we invested, Varthana has been able to demonstrate the viability of its unique sector-focused approach, attract significant additional external funding, and ultimately, advance its mission to increase access to quality education for students across India.”
This spring, Varthana succeeded in raising a substantial $14 million Series B financing round. “Accion Venture Lab’s early support of our work was essential to helping us grow and begin to fulfill our mission,” said Steve Hardgrave, CEO and Co-Founder of Varthana. “We are thrilled to help provide Accion a successful exit that will allow them to continue to focus on supporting early-stage companies.”
“Key to Accion’s approach to advancing financial inclusion is finding sustainable ways to generate both social and financial return from our investments and partnerships,” said Accion President and CEO Michael Schlein, who oversaw the launch of Venture Lab in 2012. “Our partnership with Varthana and our successful exit from this investment demonstrate the viability of Venture Lab’s approach to supporting early-stage start-ups that expand access to financial services around the world.”
Venture Lab provides both financial and non-financial support for investees, fostering experimentation and promoting business models that improve access to quality financial services for the underserved. Its equity and quasi-equity instruments are complemented by the provision of people and resources from the global Accion network. Impact-focused Unitus Capital acted as an exclusive advisor to the transaction.