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Acumen Fund Invests INR 1.5 Crore ($300K) in Edubridge Learning to provide Vocational Training and job placement for Youth in Rural India

New equity investment marks continued momentum of recently launched Education Portfolio

Mumbai, India, July 25, 2012 – Acumen Fund, a pioneering nonprofit global venture fund addressing poverty across Africa and South Asia, today announced a INR 1.5 Crore ($300K) equity investment in Edubridge Learning Private Limited, a growing company that provides vocational skills training for low income youth across Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh

The investment builds on the recent launch of Acumen Fund’s Education Portfolio, which seeks to support private sector innovations that increase access to low-cost, high-quality learning and employability services for the poor. Acumen’s investments aim to support the development of early stage companies with a focus on meeting the needs of low-income market segments, an approach recently explored in a report released by the Monitor Group and Acumen entitled “From Blueprint to Scale.”

“Edubridge is an early stage company that has tremendous potential to significantly alter the landscape of opportunities for rural youth in India,” said Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO and Founder of Acumen Fund. “This is just one example of where we can help enterprises creating public goods in markets where government and commercial players have not fully met the needs of the poor. These investments allow us to leverage our patient capital to help launch businesses with creative approaches to major social issues.”

Based in Mumbai, Edubridge seeks to address the lack of opportunity and simultaneous need for skilled labor in India by training rural youth and placing them in entry-level jobs within various corporate sectors. Edubridge targets youth between the ages of 18 and 25 who are typically the first formally employed members of their family. The company has trained over 1,500 students to date and with this investment, Edubridge plans to scale its services from 12 to 30 centers over the next two years. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is a key funder of the company and recently named Edubridge as “Best Start-Up” in their portfolio for 2011-2012.

“Edubridge’s goal is to fundamentally address the employability gap within India,” said Edubridge Founder, Girish Singhania. “By training these rural youth we are enabling them and their families to have a better future, while simultaneously improving the labor pool within India.”

India’s education system has struggled to meet the needs of a growing population in a rapidly developing economy, resulting in more than 50% of children aged 15-19 currently unemployed or out of school. Following the recent investment in Hippocampus Learning Centres, Acumen Fund’s Education Portfolio continues to expand in support of Acumen Fund’s global goal of impacting the lives of 150 million people by 2015. “It is clear that education offers one of the most viable pathways out of poverty, but there is room for much more innovation in how we ensure learning remains effective and relevant to employment,” said Ankur Shah, Interim Director of Acumen Fund India.

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