Comat, a technology company providing services to rural India, recently raised INR 60 crore (USD 12.5m) from the Omidyar Network and the Unitus Equity Fund (UEF). According to a Business Standard article, the new investment will allow “Comat to expand to new States, accelerate service delivery for training and financial services [and] strengthen management bandwidth.”
Comat provides a number of technological services that incorporate India’s rural poor. For instance, they participate in “software development, hardware procurement, systems integration, and kiosk deployment and operations” related to rural kiosks, which allow villagers to access technological services. They also work with government to provide the technical backing for policies and programs designed to assist the poor. Comat is a for-profit business that also focuses on achieving positive social goals. Financial data was not available on the company’s website.
The Unitus Equity Fund (UEF) is a fund administered by Elevar Equity, a “strategic affiliate” of Unitus, inc. According to a Unitus press release, the fund stopped raising new capital in 2006 and had USD 23.4m under management at that time. The fund’s website lists six current equity investments. Each of the recipient companies is involved in actual microfinance lending. At least one, MokshaYug Access Pvt. Ltd, also performs technical functions and supply chain management. This is the fund’s first investment in a company that does not perform lending services. According the MIX Market, the Microfinance Information eXchange, UEF had 8 equity investments totaling USD 9.4m as of 12/31/2005.
Unitus also recently launched the Unitus Equity Fund II (UEF II), which was founded in May with a combined USD 40m investment from Omidyar and Legatum. According to a previous MicroCapital story, the new fund will expand on its predecessor by “investing in companies that ‘offer products and services that enable the world’s poor to create opportunities for themselves and their communities,’” breaking away from a pure focus on MFIs. The new fund is not yet listed on MIX Market, the Microfinance Information eXchange, nor does it maintain its own online presence.
The Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment organization created by Pierre Omidyar, the founder and e-bay, and his wife, Pam. The organization has invested over USD 150m in microfinance-related organizations. According to the company’s website, they “are working to enable the microfinance sector to access private capital markets.” According to MIX Market, the company works with a wide range of investment types, including private equity, loans and debt securities as well as grants and technical assistance. They have made investments in technology firms, research institutes, microfinance funds and other important players in the microfinance market, spanning many countries. To view all microfinance related investments, please see the company’s website. In addition to their recent investment in UEF II, Omidyar also provided a USD 9m grant to Unitus. MicroCapital has reported extensively on Omidyar’s previous investments.
By Greg Casey, Research Assistant
Business Standard: “Comat raises Rs 60 crore from Omidyar and Unitus
MIX Market: Omidyar Network
MIX Market: Unitus
Omidyar Network: Home
Omidyar: Portfolio – Access to Finance
MicroCapital Story, May 19, 2008: Investment Group Legatum and Omidyar Network Invest $40m in Unitus Equity Fund II
MicroCapital Story, April 29, 2008: MICROCAPITAL STORY: Omidyar Network Granting $9m to Microfinance Non-Profit Unitus
Unitus Equity Fund: Portfolio
Unitus Press Release: “Unitus Equity Fund Closes Largest Private Global Equity Fund Targeting Microfinance”
Comat: “GoRural – Rural Telecentres/Kiosks”
MokshaYug Access Pvt. Ltd: Home
Oanda.com: FX Converter