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Cisco commits to Indian venture capital firm Aavishkaar

5 Apr 2012

Nasdaq-listed Cisco has made a commitment to venture capital firm Aavishkaar, which invests in rural and semi-urban India.

Cisco said it aims to promote technology-enabled inclusive growth in the area of social entrepreneurship. Over the past few years Cisco has committed up to $200m of venture capital investments to the country, of which almost half has been utilised. Its direct investments in the region cover a range of technology-related investments which it said are complementary to the “growing scale and reach of the investments Aavishkaar will make in rural transformation”.

Edzard Overbeek, president, Cisco Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, said, “Cisco is committed to contributing to the communities where we do business and it’s no different in India where we’ve located our Globalisation Centre East and employ thousands of employees who contribute greatly to our engineering operations. Investing in community-oriented initiatives such as Aavishkaar enables to positively impact economic and social development in the country.”

Vineet Rai, founder and managing partner at Aavishkaar, added, “Participation by Cisco in Aavishkaar II clearly demonstrates the opportunity that rural India holds for creating value and impact. We are confident that Cisco’s expertise as a technology giant and their interest in rural transformation in India as a strategy would benefit not only the fund but our investee companies as well.” He added, “Aavishkaar’s long track record of working with early stage entrepreneurs and keen understanding of rural India may allow Cisco to improve its intervention strategy in rural India.”

Aavishkaar II, is a Mauritius based $120m fund dedicated to investing in rural India, achieved its first closing at $70m with corporate investors such as Cisco, along with institutional investors such as IFC, KFW, FMO and CDC participating in the first closing. The fund invests in early stage businesses operating in rural India, providing them with the missing risk capital, and targets developmental impact in addition to commercial value generation. The fund is targeting investments in agriculture, education, health and energy sectors.

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