What is the Artha Venture Challenge?

The Artha Venture Challenge being run by the Artha team in partnership with Menterra strives to find the most ambitious, early stage social entrepreneurs in India. We are looking for people with big ideas who can build successful ventures to deliver social impact at scale.

We are looking to select a group of social entrepreneurs who will get the opportunity to pitch for up to INR 60 lakhs (USD 100K) of funding if matched by the equivalent or more in co-investment. Artha may either lead or simply match on any transaction. In addition the selected enterprises will get access to first class business support, networks and mentoring designed to keep pace with the fastest growing social ventures.

We also aim to strengthen the social investment market by using the Artha Venture Challenge to attract new impact investors who are willing to bring much needed early stage, patient capital to the market.

What is the Artha Platform and who manages it?

The ArthaPlatform.com is an online community and website dedicated to building relationships between impact investors and donors, and social entrepreneurs and capacity building support organizations (all "Sector Participants" or "Artha community") working on or in India. It is an independent initiative supported by Rianta Capital Zurich.

When you apply to the Artha Venture Challenge, a concurrent profile will be set up for you on the Artha Platform, which you will be responsible to activate and use at your discretion. You are encouraged to keep the profile of your enterprise active and updated on the ArthaPlatform.com, as this will stay live on the pipeline of investable opportunities beyond the timeline of the AVC.

What do you mean by 'Other' sectors?

While water, agriculture, energy, education, health and livelihoods are our core sectors of interest, the Artha Venture Challenge is open to receiving applications from innovative social ventures working in any sector, which have demonstrated a positive impact on the lives of the people at the Base of the Pyramid in India.

Am I eligible to apply for the Artha Venture Challenge if I am not based in India?

No. Your venture must be based in India.

How do I apply for the Artha Venture Challenge?

THE APPLICATION: http://www.arthaventurechallenge.com/applynow/

The application must be submitted in English via an online application system (see our website http://www.arthaventurechallenge.com/ for a detailed description of the procedure). Paper applications are not accepted.

The application consists of the following items:

  • The completed application form
  • A curriculum vitae of the entrepreneur and co-founders
  • Financials
  • Detailed Business Plan

When can I apply and what is the timeline?

The AVC runs on the basis of a rolling application. Applications are accepeted all year round.

When will I hear if my application has been successful and will I get feedback?

Applicants to the AVC will be notified by email when their application received has been considered favorably. We are not necessarily able to give personalised feedback due to the expected high volume of applications, but will do our best through the process.

What finance and support do I get if I get selected as part of the Artha Venture Challenge?

If you are selected as one of the finalists, you will receive:

  • The opportunity to apply for INR 60 lakh (USD 100K) investment if matched by at least the same amount in equity investment from other co-investors
  • Exposure to a closed network of impact investors
  • Connection to a network of experienced entrepreneurs, sector specialists and business leaders
  • Profile as 'one to watch' amongst the top high potential social entrepreneurs in India

Do I automatically get INR 60 lakh (USD 100K) if I am selected as part of the final pool?

No. As a member of the final pool, you get the opportunity to apply for INR 60 lakh (USD 100K) match funding. This is a valuable opportunity to use the incentive of match funding to leverage external co-investors. Having exclusive access to a match fund should make it easier for you to attract co-investment.

It is important to note however that match funding is not guaranteed even if you do attract co-investors. You still need to apply for the match funding and will be assessed by the Artha team to ensure your application represents the best use of match funds. Artha and Menterra’s investment teams will need to be involved through the process of diligence, structuring and closure in order for the “match” to happen. There is no “blind” matching or commitment to any enterprise on the back of the Venture Challenge.

Is the INR 60 lakh (USD 100K) match funding a grant - what terms are associated with it?

No, the match funding from the Artha Venture Challenge will be allocated in the form of an equity investment - determined and structured on a strict case-by-case basis.

How do I find co-investors and what happens if I can't find any co-investors?

As part of the selected final group, you will be invited on to the Artha Platform, which gives you exposure to a closed network of active impact investors. This will provide one source of potential co-investors. You may also find your own investors - using the opportunity of up to INR 60 lakh (USD 100K) in match funding as an attractive incentive that could de-risk your investment proposition.

The results from this programme in its first year showed that 10 early stage co-investment deals were closed within 10 months, attracting over £1m in co-investment, 67% of which was from new Angel investors who had never made an impact investment before.

If you are unable to secure a co-investor with in a stipulated time suggested by Investment Committee, you will not be eligible for the match funding.

What type of co-investment is eligible?

The co-investment must be equity investment.

Who pays for legal costs associated with the co-investment deals?

The legal costs associated with the co-investment will be borne by the entrepreneur.

What kind of support do you offer?

In partnership with Menterra, a social impact fund that spun off from Villgro, India’s oldest and foremost social enterprise incubator, Artha is now able to provide a much higher level of support and engagement to these ventures with whom it engages. The selected enterprises will get access to first class business support, networks and mentoring designed to keep pace with the fastest growing social ventures.

Does my venture need to be legally incorporated in a particular way in order to apply? For example can charities apply?

Social entrepreneurs with ventures of any legal incorporation form may apply. You should recognize that raising investment capital to match the Artha Venture Challenge awards is integral to the programme and a key assessment question. Some structures may be more limiting in the types of investment capital they are able to take on. ‘Not for Profit’ enterprises are not eligible to apply.

Is this programme for start-ups or more established ventures?

The programme is open to early stage ventures - typically between one to three years old that are looking for up to INR 60 lakh - 120 lakh (USD 50 - 200K) investment for the next stage of growth. You need to have a delivered a proof of concept or pilot, you should have a strong personal track record in your field, a core team in place, key delivery partners, an strong network, a business plan based on extensive research and financial forecasts which will stand up to independent scrutiny.

Can I apply if my application was unsuccessful last year?

Yes. However we will expect to see significant development of activities, progress made in terms of impact and a stronger case made for why you need investment.

What is expected of me if my application is successful?

There is one key expectation; that you and your organisation are committed to achieving your plans to scale up the social impact of your social venture. This is not a trivial ask as the "day job" of running the existing business must go on and the work required to secure investment and prepare for and deliver growth will not be insignificant. We are able to provide support and you will need to be ready to absorb and use that support to secure investment and grow your venture.

We are not looking for entrepreneurs who need investment in order to deliver business as usual. This is growth capital and we will need to be convinced that you and your team have the capacity to deliver a growth plan.

Will my application be treated confidentially and will the Artha team of assessors sign an NDA?

All applications will be treated confidentially if the entrepreneur specifies this preference; however, the most likely approach to success will mean allowing other key AVC and Menterra partners to see your submission. We will not sign NDAs.

What is Menterra's role?

Menterra is partnering with AVC to provide a much higher level of support and engagement to the ventures with which it engages. Applications will be screened by AVC and Menterra. Menterra will also manage the program and carry out due diligence on selected enterprises. The selected ventures will gain access to Menterra's customised high-touch incubation support, networks and mentoring, as well as funding of up to Rs 60 lakh.