April 4, 2012 – Bangalore, India - Reinforcing its commitment to country transformation and inclusive growth, Cisco today announced an investment in Aavishkaar, a venture fund founded to promote development in rural and semi-urban India. Cisco will invest in Aavishkaar India II Company Ltd. (Aavishkaar II) and will collaborate with other investors to drive sustainable business models with social impact that utilize the power of the network. Working with Aavishkaar, Cisco aims to take advantage of its expertise and promote technology-enabled inclusive growth in the area of social entrepreneurship.
Cisco is committed to India and sees making investments in the country as an important way to learn about the local market, align technology innovation, and help spread the benefits of technology to a wider group of people. Over the past few years Cisco has committed up to $200 million of venture capital investments to the country, of which almost half has been utilized.
Cisco has a history of creating growth through direct investments and investment partnerships. Its direct investments in the region cover a broad spectrum of technology-related investments which are complementary to the growing scale and reach of the investments Aavishkaar will make in rural transformation.
Edzard Overbeek, president, Cisco Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, said: "Cisco is committed to contributing to the communities where we do business and it's no different in India where we've located our Globalisation Centre East and employ thousands of employees who contribute greatly to our engineering operations. Investing in community-oriented initiatives such as Aavishkaar enables to positively impact economic and social development in the country."
Vineet Rai, founder and managing partner at Aavishkaar, said: "Participation by Cisco in Aavishkaar II clearly demonstrates the opportunity that rural India holds for creating value and impact. We are confident that Cisco's expertise as a technology giant and their interest in rural transformation in India as a strategy would benefit not only the fund but our investee companies as well." He added, "Aavishkaar's long track record of working with early stage entrepreneurs and keen understanding of rural India may allow Cisco to improve its intervention strategy in rural India."
Joydeep Bose, managing director, Corporate Development, Cisco Asia Pacific and Japan, said, "As a company, Cisco strongly believes that technology and innovation can drive country transformation. Cisco's investment in Aavishkaar supports our goal to play an active role in opportunities that focus on driving rural transformation in the Indian economy. We believe that the focus areas as identified by Aavishkaar, especially education and health care, are very important and tie in with Cisco's priorities for India."
Aavishkaar II, a Mauritius based US $120 million fund dedicated to investing in rural India, achieved its first closing at US $70 million with corporate investors such as Cisco, along with institutional investors such as IFC, KFW, FMO and CDC participating in the first closing. The fund invests in early-stage businesses operating in rural India, providing them with the missing risk capital, and seeks significant developmental impact in addition to commercial value generation. The fund would invest in Agriculture, Education, Health and Energy sectors. The fund is advised by Mumbai-based Aavishkaar Venture Management Services Pvt. Ltd., which has also advised Aavishkaar India Micro Venture Capital Fund and two other funds in the financial inclusion space.
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