Acumen has invested an undisclosed amount in Haqdarshak Empowerment Solutions, an organization that works to ensure citizens at the last mile get access to government financial schemes and services for a small fee. This is done through a mobile and web SAAS platform for corporate partners complemented by a training platform used by community women entrepreneurs. It was founded in 2016 by Aniket Doegar (CEO), Asha Krishnan (CPO), and PR Ganapathy (Chairman).
Most people working in urban and semi-urban areas are employed informally. They have no written job contracts, no regular salaried work, and are often employed casually through job contractors, subcontractors, and temp agencies. Several attempts to formalize informal work have been made and are underway. But on-ground reality depicts that most urban workers — 62–85% of them — have no access to benefits, which make up the flagship schemes for COVID-19 relief to workers in urban areas.
In four years Haqdarshak has helped 300K+ beneficiaries with welfare schemes, impacted 350K+ families, and channeled Rs. 150cr+ ($20M) in benefits value. It currently covers over 6,000+ schemes and is present in 19 states. During the last four months, Haqdarshak has supported more than 61,000 citizens to access the benefits of various welfare schemes with a special COVID-19 relief focus. The company has also recently launched the Haqdarshak app on the Google Play Store. One of the most recent initiatives by Haqdarshak is the launch of its MSME-focused platform to offer application support services to them to apply for eligible welfare schemes.
Mahesh Yagnaraman, Acumen India Director, said, “These are critical times when the most vulnerable communities such as displaced workers, migrant workers, and the affected people have to get their due benefits from the government programs. We are excited that Haqdarshak, with its technology platform and outreach, is trying to bridge the gap between the intended benefits in the schemes and actual delivery to the poor. We feel these platforms are the need of the hour to ensure people do not slip back into poverty and are greatly encouraged by the potential of the Haqdarshak model, platform, and the fantastic team led by Aniket.”
The investment is part of the pre-Series A round where the company is looking to raise $750K-$1M. The latest investment will be used for technology enhancement (B2C and B2B offerings), hiring quality talent in execution and tech teams, and strengthening the current evaluation and monitoring process. Haqdarshak aims to scale to a million applications with 10K agents in the next couple of years.
Aniket Doegar, Founder & CEO, Haqdarshak said, “We at Haqdarshak are committed to our vision of ensuring every citizen and small business in India gets access to government schemes and services. We are extremely happy and excited that investors like Acumen, Upaya along with our angel investors have shown faith in this vision, especially in the current pandemic business environment. Their expertise in scaling businesses will help us build core teams going forward. This investment round will help us scale up our core platforms and reach our goal of ensuring 100 million citizens get access to government financial services by 2030.”
Other investors in the round include Upaya Ventures, Ex HDFC and Citibank senior executive Shalini Chabra, Ex Infosys and Capgemini senior executive Manish Subramaniam and existing angel investors. The company has also been recently selected in the Action CoVID 19 and Omidyar COVID Relief teams’ grantee list.
Kathryn Ann Cochran, CEO, Upaya Ventures said, “We were impressed by the traction that Haqdarshak has already shown in reaching poor families to connect them with government schemes that have never been more relevant. We look forward to working with the team to help them reach even deeper into extreme poverty.”
Haqdarshak had earlier raised $190k in angel funding in May 2016 from investors which included Ex Villgro India President PR Ganapathy, Wonderchef MD Ravi Saxena, Co-Founder Samaaru Pvt Ltd. Sandeep Raju, Executive Director HUL Prabha Narsimhan, McKinsey Senior Partner Ramesh Srinivasan, and Senior MD at OMERS Capital Markets Ashish Goyal among others.
Acumen raises philanthropic funds to invest patient capital in business models that deliver critical goods and services to the world’s poor. Since 2001, Acumen has improved the lives of millions by investing in companies and entrepreneurs providing agricultural inputs, quality education, clean energy, healthcare services, formal housing, safe drinking water, and sanitation services to low-income customers in India, Pakistan, East Africa, West Africa, and Latin America.
About Upaya Ventures
Upaya Social Ventures is fighting extreme poverty through dignified jobs. Founded in 2011, Upaya provides investment and consulting support to early-stage businesses aimed at creating jobs for the poorest of the poor. Upaya’s continually growing portfolio of impact investments has created over 17,000 dignified jobs. Endorsed by Impact Matters as a high-impact, cost-effective nonprofit, Upaya’s teams in Seattle and Bangalore are committed to a goal of helping entrepreneurs create jobs for 50,000 people in India by 2023. Please visit www.upayasv.org for more information.