Singapore-based Milaap Social Ventures, a micro-lending platform focusing on India’s working poor, has just announced that it has raised an additional US$1.1 million in venture funding to invest in development of the platform and scale up its operations.
The round was led by Singapore-based Jungle Ventures, an early stage investment firm and an approved technology incubator under the Singapore National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme. Other investors included Toivo Annus (co-founder of Skype), Lionrock Capital (a Singapore based family investment office), Jayesh Parekh (Co-Founder, Sony Entertainment Television) as well as existing investor, Unitus Seed Fund.
Prior to this investment Milaap raised US$250,000 in seed investment from Unitus Seed Fund, First Light Ventures, Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Founder, One97) and Rajiv Madhok (Founder, Oorja).
The current round of funds will be utilized to expand engineering and marketing investments for enhancing the online product experience, and to invest in scaling up marketing and outreach efforts.
Milaap is targeting the more than 480 million Indians mostly living in the rural and semi-urban areas and who are outside of the formal banking system. Less than five percent of them are able to procure reasonably priced, life-improving loans for their small businesses, vocational training, or other essential household assets.
Milaap bridges this gap from two directions. Milaap works with carefully vetted, credible grass-root organisations across India to share the specific individual lending needs in their communities – be it a student in Rajasthan, an artisan in Manipur, or family in need of clean water in Tamil Nadu.
These specific needs are then published on Milaap’s online fundraising platform which enables individuals, companies, and interest groups to take meaningful action by giving loans to them, sharing their stories and starting campaigns to mobilize more funds through their social networks. Lenders are able to track specific progress of the loan from initial funding to repayment and impact made.
To date, Milaap has raised over US$800,000 in loans impacting over 25,000 lives across 10 states in India, for a range of needs such as better school infrastructure, employment-linked training for the youth, seed capital for small businesses, access to clean water & sanitation, and safe lighting for families.