September 29, 2008, Bangalore — Comat Technologies, operating India’s largest network of Rural Business Centres enabling socio-economic growth of rural communities, announced it has received an investment of Rs 60 crores from Omidyar Network and the Unitus Equity Fund (UEF). Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, led the investment round, which marks the organization’s first direct investment in India. Comat is the first non-microfinance investment for UEF. Managed by Elevar Equity LLC, UEF is a private equity fund that makes strategic investments in high growth microfinance institutions and social enterprises.
The investment will enable Comat to expand to new States, accelerate service delivery for training and financial services, strengthen management bandwidth, and enhance its brand.
Citing the latest investment as critical to spurring rural inclusion, Sriram Raghavan, CEO, Comat Technologies said, “The infusion of funds from international, like-minded investors provides us singular focus and direction to benefit and transform the lives of rural citizens. The fact that we have already touched one million farmers in the state of Karnataka alone validates that what we have embarked on is not an experiment, but a proven, scalable and transformational business model.”
Comat delivers information-based services to rural citizens in India through its wholly owned network of ICT-enabled Rural Business Centres. By March 2009, Comat will increase its network six fold to own and operate 6,800 Rural Business Centres from its current 1,100 Centres, across 10 Indian states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Sikkim, Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The Centres act as the last mile solution for delivering employability training, education, insurance, finance and essential government services in a predictable and efficient manner to rural customers.
“Omidyar Network is truly excited that our first direct investment in India is with Comat, a company motivated by its impact,” said Matt Bannick, managing partner, Omidyar Network. “Comat’s success depends upon the social value their services provide, and technology is key to leveraging its suite of offerings. Omidyar Network’s funding will enable Comat to reach hundreds of thousands of new rural customers, providing them with access to products and services that can improve their lives.”
“We are excited to work with Comat in our first non-microfinance investment since we began investing in 2006. This investment signifies our expansion beyond microfinance and confidence in emerging market social entrepreneurs,” said Sandeep Farias, Managing Director of UEF. “Comat’s business model and its goals of creating and leveraging rural business centres to offer transformational services to rural communities are very powerful.”
Comat believes that providing meaningful and accessible information is a powerful means of empowering rural communities. The Company trains several thousand job aspirants every quarter in employability skills, and is also well positioned to enable financial inclusion in rural areas.
About Comat Technologies
Comat Technologies operating India’s largest network of Rural Business Centres enabling socio-economic growth of rural communities is dedicated to providing employability training, education, insurance, finance and government services to rural citizens. Its expertise lies in mapping the needs of the rural population and delivering the same through a network of ICT enabled channels called Rural Business Centers (RBC). For more information, please visit www.comat.com.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm committed to creating opportunity for individuals. Established by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, and his wife Pam, Omidyar Network supports nonprofit and for-profit efforts that enable people around the world to improve their lives and make powerful, lasting contributions to their communities. Since 2004, Omidyar Network has funded a number of organizations in areas such as microfinance, social media, and government transparency. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.net.
About the Unitus Equity Fund
The Unitus Equity Fund is a private equity fund focused on the four billion poor in developing countries. The fund intends to bridge the gap between these underserved communities and global capital, helping to create a virtuous cycle of opportunity based on open access for all. It will provide equity capital to high growth microfinance institutions and to social entrepreneurs. UEF has an investment portfolio of eight microfinance institutions across India, Mexico and Brazil. UEF is managed by Elevar Equity LLC. Elevar Equity’s Managing Directors, Chris Brookfield, Maya Chorengel, Johanna Posada and Sandeep Farias, together bring over 45 years of investing experience and extensive knowledge of the microfinance and social enterprise sectors. UEF is a strategic affiliate of Unitus an international nonprofit organization. For more information, please visit www.unitusequityfund.com.