Leading US-based gender smart investment platform Achieving Women Equity (AWE) Funds has announced the launch of its maiden India-focussed fund of INR 350 crores. This fund will further its efforts to invest in innovation to promote gender equity and sustainability in India.
It will invest in approximately 15 Indian startups over the next five years in Healthcare, Climate and Sustainability, Food and Agriculture, Education and Fintech. This SEBI-registered fund has attracted investment support from international blue-chip companies, apart from interest from Indian institutional and HNI investors. A few of them include market leaders like Zia Mody (Founder – AZB & Partners), Soumya Rajan (Founder & CEO – Waterfield Advisors), and Padma Chandrasekaran (formerly Gates Foundation) and Divya Sampath (formerly Microsoft, Cognizant, Service Now), among others.
“For the longest time, given the entrenched gender norms, women’s participation as active contributors to a country’s GDP has lagged very significantly. This is evident in the low and diminishing labour participation rates,” said Seema Chaturvedi, Founding Partner of AWE Funds, in the announcement by her organisation. “We believe that AWE Funds can play a very positive role in catalyzing this much-required change at a stage when it is most impactful through an effective allocation of capital. We have been investing with a gender lens that delivers sustainable economic development and commercial returns. Our richly experienced on-the-ground team in India will help us successfully champion a gender-inclusive ecosystem,” she added.
Founded to deploy equity capital in innovation in the South Asian nation to promote gender equity and sustainability, AWE Funds has set a goal of empowering 30 million women to gain ‘agency’ by 2030. This would be done through a quantitative threshold-based gender lens gating criteria to invest in women-owned, led or influenced companies.
AWE Funds has pursued investments at an early stage of an enterprise’s lifecycle. It also seeks to assist companies with the diverse skills of the firm’s investment professionals, strategic relationships, and firm’s global network of executives and advisors to deliver market returns for its investors. “The need for women to join the mainstream economic value creation has gained serious urgency, especially in the setting of an overall scarcity of resources to achieve sustainable development goals. Gender equity unleashes a massive multiplier flywheel effect to mobilize these scarce resources for maximal output,” said Chaturvedi. The fund of Rs. 130 crores raised from marquee HNIs and Institutional LPs will further their goals.
The AWE team has full-cycle investment and exit experience in India and US over multiple economic cycles, mobilizing and investing close to Rs. 28,000 million. In addition to this, the firm warehouses four portfolio companies namely Freshokartz Agri Pvt. Ltd. (Agritech), Blackburn Technologies Pvt. Ltd., dba Remedico (Healthtech), and Agam International (Fintech) and Velmeni.ai (Healthtech).