Startup community Action Covid-19 Team eyes Rs 500 cr philanthropic fund

Startup community Action Covid-19 Team eyes Rs 500 cr philanthropic fund
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5 Mar, 2021

The Action Covid-19 Team (ACT), launched by startup ecosystem stakeholders to help firms tackle pandemic-induced challenges, on Thursday said that it plans to raise a Rs 500 crore philanthropic fund.

The funds from the second phase, a statement said, will be used to support solutions that address problems associated with education, healthcare, environment and inclusion of women in the workforce.

ACT, which comprises Indian founders, leaders and venture capitalists, was launched in March 2020 with a Rs 100 crore grant. In the first phase, it claims to have funded 54 startups and over 100 projects, impacting 49 million lives across 27 states. 

In the latest phase, ACT said it looks to raise Rs 50 crore to create a future-ready healthcare system. It will support the development of medical products and technology, and ensure access, quality and affordability across different disease verticals. 

The effort will be led by Sandeep Singhal, co-founder and managing director at Nexus Venture Partners, along with Shekhar Kirani, partner at Accel.

ACT said it aims to invest Rs 100 crore in education to enable access to quality learning and work-readiness skills for students in the bottom three economic quartiles of India’s population. It will back edtech platforms under this effort and also work towards reducing learning poverty from 55% to 15%. Half of the targeted corpus has already been raised, the statement said.

The education segment is led by Ashish Dhawan, founder and chairman at Central Square Foundation (CSF) and Ashoka University, along with Mekin Maheshwari, founder at Udhyam Learning Foundation.

ACT also plans to raise Rs 100 crore to support organisations working on innovations that have a measurable environmental benefit and an ability to be a force multiplier in areas of air, water, waste and land.

It will devote Rs 50 crore for solutions that increase water security and improve air quality, waste management and land rejuvenation. Sequoia India managing director GV Ravishankar and Accel founding partner Prashant Prakash are spearheading the environmental effort, the statement said.

ACT for women will focus on promoting gender equality across the startup ecosystem, the statement said. The initiative, led by Freshworks CHRO Suman Gopalan, startups and venture capitalists will support increased participation of women across roles through dedicated mentorship, internship opportunities for fresh graduates, and a return-to-work programme. 

The community will also fund ideas that solve systemic challenges that hinder workplace inclusion and launch a report on women’s participation in the startup and corporate workplace for 2021, the statement said.