International Finance Corporation (IFC), a part of the World Bank Group, is investing 3 million dollars in pi Ventures’ maiden fund and India’s first early stage venture fund focused on Applied Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Internet of Things (IoT). The amount will be used for investing in companies leveraging technologies such as applied artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and IoT across a range of sectors.
IFC is making investments through the ‘IFC Startup Catalyst programme’ which aims to build local ecosystems to drive innovation and entrepreneurship. Through the programme, IFC aims to invest in sustainable seed-stage funding mechanisms, including accelerators and seed funds, for supporting early-stage entrepreneurship globally. IFC has both a direct investment practice and is also a Limited Partner (LP) to local PE and VC funds.
IFC’s focus areas in venture capital include consumer internet, edtech, healthtech, cleantech and emerging technology solutions based on data analytics and AI. IFC’s venture capital investments in India include online grocery major Big Basket; edtech startup Byju; Portea, a company providing affordable homecare and Blackbuck, a leading player in elogistics.
“This investment is aligned with IFC’s objective to act as a catalyst to spur entrepreneurial activity and support technology startups that drive innovation in India and globally, and solve complex problems across industries,” says Ruchira Shukla, regional lead, venture capital, South Asia, IFC.
Manish Singhal, founding partner of pi Ventures says, “Getting IFC to back us in our journey is very meaningful to us. Not only do they bring a wealth of knowledge but also a world-wide network which can be very useful for our investee companies. We appreciate IFC backing disruptive product companies in the Applied AI space via pi Ventures.”
India is IFC's top country exposure, globally. IFC’s committed portfolio in India is over 5 billion dollars as of June 30, 2016. In FY16, IFC committed 1.1 billion dollars in new investments in the country. In addition to strengthening local capital markets in India, IFC is focused on boosting financing in infrastructure and logistics, promoting financial inclusion, helping create conditions to attract increased private capital, and helping structure public-private partnerships.