Steady Capital now Available for Indian Civic Tech Startups as Omidyar Network Calls for Applications

Omidyar Network and Village Capital invite entrepreneurs to solve tough civic and social challenges, in infrastructure, education, health, sanitation, governance and administration

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“Civic Tech” most likely the next buzzword in the Indian startup ecosystem (cue another buzzword) has formally made its entrance with venture capitalists interested in social impact committing to form a steady flow of investment for startups solving problems in governance or civic issues. 

Stacy Donohue, investment partner, Omidyar Network, explains on Quora: “There is no one “industry standard” definition of civic tech, but at Omidyar Network we define it broadly as technologies that are deployed to enhance the relationship between people and government, by giving people more of a voice to participate in public decision making and/or to improve the delivery of services (usually by gov’t) to people. These technologies can be developed by either non-profit organizations or for-profit companies, or even by government itself.

Omidyar Network, a global philanthropic investment firm which plans to invest $55-60 million a year in India for the next four years has partnered with venture capital firm, Village Capital, to launch an accelerator program, Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator to identify startups worth investing in. 

The  six-month accelerator program will train and invest in early-stage civic engagement ventures in India by bringing together entrepreneurs, influencers, the government and potential funders, through forums and workshops. Following an intensive five-step process, the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program will then select a cohort of 6–12 ventures post the application using VIRAL, a proprietary evaluation framework developed by Village Capital. 

“We are really excited about the growing potential of civic technology in India. To harness this opportunity, we want to support promising entrepreneurs, who are using tech to tackle some of India’s most pressing social challenges, and to empower citizens to better engage with the government and their communities,” said Bharath Visweswariah, director for Governance and Citizen Engagement Investments at Omidyar Network in India. 

Speaking about the collaboration with Omidyar Network, Deepak Menon, regional director for emerging markets, Village Capital said, “Governance and civic issues cut across several of Village Capital’s focus areas such as health, education and environmental sustainability. Through the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program, Village Capital and Omidyar Network hope to catalyze the ecosystem for entrepreneurs in this space; supporting them to sustainably improve basic quality of life across populations and regions in India, and create impact at scale.”

The selected cohort will receive support and training over a period of three to five months to hone their expertise, refine and improve their business models, and increase their scalability and impact. 

This program has been designed to encourage Indian entrepreneurs to develop solutions to tackle the country’s toughest civic and social challenges, which include infrastructure, education, health, sanitation, governance and administration among others. 

Unleashing entrepreneurial creativity towards addressing these civic challenges will likely yield better and more durable solutions to these issues. It will also aid public involvement in critical decision-making processes. The use of civic technology can thereby help dramatically improve delivery of services to citizens and refine the government’s overall responsiveness to civic issues. Through the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program, Omidyar Network and Village Capital aim to support and further develop India’s civic technology sector as a whole. 

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