Funding for Indian Startups Won’t Dry Up: Omidyar’s Roopa Kudva
Friday, September 4, 2015
Roopa Kudva, 51, took charge of the India operations of New York-based impact investor Omidyar Network in early July.
As partner and the managing director, Kudva, who stepped down as chief executive officer (CEO) of Mumbai-based rating and analytics firm Crisil Ltd last year, is up against a challenging environment for impact investing, in which money is put to use to deliver social benefits alongside financial returns.
India, at present, has 30-odd impact investors, which have invested $1.6 billion across more than 300 companies. While interest in impact investing continues to grow, local investment teams are currently under pressure from limited partners (institutions that invest in impact funds) to show measurable returns—financial and social.
Omidyar Network, bankrolled by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s personal wealth, has committed investments worth $160 million in India so far. It follows a dual investment approach, making grants to non-profits alongside for-profit investments in start-ups. It invests across sectors such as consumer Internet and mobile, financial inclusion, education and governance.
The firm currently manages an active portfolio of 36 investments, of which 21 are for-profit start-ups. Some of its notable for-profit investments include online classifieds platform Quikr, local-language news and content app Dailyhunt, playschool operator Tree House Education & Accessories Ltd, microlender Vistaar Financial Services Pvt. Ltd, and on-demand home services provider Zimmber.
In an interview in Mumbai, Kudva spoke about how and why Omidyar Network’s India portfolio will change over the next few years, the challenges of measuring impact, and frothy valuations in the consumer Internet sector.