eBay Founder Steps Up India Philanthropy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investing firm of eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar, plans to plough as much as $200 million into India in the next five years. The organization’s target: businesses and non-profits that can make a “social impact” and improve life for people on the lowest economic rungs.

The organization has had boots on the ground in India for about a year and is set to launch a formal office in Mumbai in September, said Jayant Sinha, managing director of Omidyar Network India, on Monday.

Even without a local arm, Omidyar Network has already invested $60 million of the firm’s $350 million in total global commitments into Indian ventures, including D. light Design a firm that makes solar-powered lanterns, Quikr, India’s version of the Craigslist online classified service, and various microfinance-related firms.

Among the key areas the group plans to target in the future, Mr. Sinha said, are businesses that aim to bring poor people into the banking system, social media enterprises and technologies aimed at making government more transparent. He said the amount Omidyar Network commits will be “driven by opportunities,” but he expects deals worth $100 million to $200 million in five years.

“We’re looking for organizations that are going to have breakthrough impact, and are going to scale and touch millions of lives,” Mr. Sinha told India Real Time.

Source: Wall Street Journal (link opens in a new window)