LabourNet Services India Private Limited (LabourNet) today announced an undisclosed equity investment from Acumen, a pioneering nonprofit global venture firm addressing poverty across South Asia and Africa, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, an organization focused on improving the lives of impoverished children through education and health in the United States, South Africa and India. LabourNet is a leader in the private vocational training & education sector in India, enabling livelihoods via work-integrated job training for informal sector workers in trades such as construction, manufacturing, leather, and beauty among others.
While most vocational training companies in India focus on the formal sector, over 90 percent of the over 500 million workers are in the unorganized or informal sector where benefits, contracts and security of livelihood is highly uncertain. “We are excited to partner with Acumen and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to help scale our work in training the largely overlooked informal labour force in India,” said V. Gayathri, CEO of LabourNet. The company has enabled livelihoods through training for over 50,000 people to date and plans to train over 125,000 workers annually within the next five years.
“In spite of the size of India’s unorganized workforce, very few organizations seek to help youth in the informal sector to improve the skills they need to earn a reliable income. LabourNet has a unique focus on such clients, and an innovative delivery model to reach them,” said Satyam Darmora, who oversees the Family Economic Stability portfolio at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “Moreover, the LabourNet team has extensive experience in education and livelihoods, a scalable business model, and a deep commitment to creating sustainable social impact.”
Since 2006, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation have invested more than $120 million in transforming the lives of children living in urban poverty in India. In addition to its focus on education and health, the foundation team also sees skills-training as equally important in helping youth to overcome poverty in India. This investment is part of a strategy to establish high-quality, sustainable institutions that can train large numbers of employable youth.
“We believe employers will over time adopt a uniform standard of certification for informal sector jobs in line with the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework,” said Ankur Shah, Education Portfolio Head, Acumen. “LabourNet has the potential to catalyze this market and create an ecosystem to enable measurable skill improvements and real income increases for informal labourers.” This is Acumen’s third education investment in India alongside Hippocampus Learning Centres, a pre-school chain, and Edubridge Learning, a vocational training company focusing on the formal sector.