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Education Catalyst Fund (ECF) raises US$ 20 million in a funding round led by Gray Matters Capital and MSDF

ECF is an early stage education and skilling fund focused on low income population

Sept 20, 2017 – Fund Manager, CBA Capital, has successfully completed the first close of Education Catalyst Fund, a US$ 20 Million onshore fund, focused on supporting edtech companies that offer solutions to low income families in the education, and jobs & livelihoods areas. ECF is an onshore fund established under the Alternate Investment Fund Category II scheme of the Securities & Exchange Board of India. It is also the first multi-investor fund to focus exclusively on affordable education and jobs & livelihoods opportunities in the country. The investors include Gray Matters Capital (GMC), Michael & Susan Dell Foundation India and a few private investors in India.

ECF is structured as an 8-year close-ended fund aimed at supporting companies in the early part of their lifecycle with seed and series A stage investments. ECF aims to support around 15 companies during the eight-year period and these companies are expected to touch over one million low income households over their lifetime.

Over the past 3 years, CBA Capital has established a deep understanding of the space working with young edtech companies through “India Education Investment Fund” (IEIF), a proprietary fund of Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. IEIF focuses exclusively on early stage, high quality, affordable education and skilling solutions targeted at urban low-income families. It has seed funded six young companies till date (Oliveboard, edtechChipperSage, GuruG, Report Bee, School Mitra and Select Jobs) that have demonstrated strong traction in scaling up their businesses.

Ragini Chaudhary, CEO, Gray Matters Capital India said,

“GMC believes that investing in education and supporting young entrepreneurs is a powerful pathway to achieving impact at scale. ECF is focused on education and skilling – two of the most important ingredients for harvesting the demographic dividend of the country. We are excited about the potential of bringing positive change in the lives of low income families across India.”

Speaking about ECF, Geeta Goel, Vice President, Mission Investing at Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, said,

“Over the years, we have seen that the foundation’s impact can be expedited through high quality market based solutions that show demonstrable improvements in education and employment levels of our target segment. Our strategy of supporting early stage companies through funds is geared towards catalyzing such solutions, and then nurturing them to scale and sustainability. We were pleased to see the traction in IEIF, and decided to continue our support to CBA Capital in setting up a larger, multi-investor fund.”

Vishal Bharat, Managing Director at CBA Capital said,

“The edtech space presents an exciting investment opportunity, especially when its benefits can be reaped by all, irrespective of their economic levels, in a vast country like India. The potential of serving customers with varied vernacular needs, differing economic situations and high aspirations is ripe for market-based interventions”

About CBA Capital

Founded in 2013, CBA Capital is an impact investment management firm with focus on impact sectors – education and financial inclusion. It manages two funds IEIF and ECF. It also manages some early stage investments through its own proprietary pool.

About Gray Matters Capital

Founded in 2006 in Atlanta, GA as an impact investing enterprise by Bob Patillo, GMC actively invests in sustainable, replicable business models that benefit underserved populations in developing countries. It has set itself a mission of “an education leading to a more purposeful life for 100 million women by 2036.”

 

Gray Matters Capital’s coLABS Announces First Round of Gender Lens Investments

ATLANTA, GA, June 12, 2017 – Gray Matters Capital (GMC) is excited to announce the first round of investments from its newest portfolio coLABS, which invests in innovative and scalable pilots that are tackling critical issues facing women and girls around the world. Launched at the beginning of this year, coLABS supports entrepreneurs of early-stage ventures with seed investment capital, rapid prototyping, and advisor support.

This first round of investments reflect the portfolio’s varied interests—three different sectors spanning three different continents. “We are extremely proud to support these diverse pilots as they each use innovative solutions to address challenges faced by women,” said Jennifer Soltis, colead of the new portfolio. “The entrepreneurs in this group are incredibly talented, and we are thrilled to work with them as they grow their businesses.”

African Renewable Energy (ARED) uses a micro-franchise model that focuses on women and disabled individuals to provide Wi-Fi, mobile phone charging services, and intranet content via solar-powered kiosks. ARED launched in January 2013 in Rwanda and is using coLABS funding for its first international expansion into Uganda to market test its newest kiosk model, the Shiriki Hub.

doctHERs is a Pakistani digital health and telemedicine company that connects a network of homebased female doctors—who are unable to access the workplace—to healthcare consumers—who lack access to quality, affordable healthcare–via technology. In February 2017, doctHERs pivoted after 18 months of a community-based clinical model to focus on underserved stakeholders in corporate value chains to achieve more scale and financial sustainability. doctHERs is using coLABS funding to test this new corporate model. On the supply side, it is reintegrating women healthcare professionals into the workforce. On the demand side, it engaging workers and families within corporate value chains with a special focus on health and wellness for women and girls.

IssueVoter is a non-partisan platform that gives its users a voice in Washington by making civic engagement accessible, efficient, and impactful. IssueVoter keeps users informed year-round by alerting them before Congress votes on key issues that they care about, sending their opinions directly to representatives with one click, and holding politicians accountable by tracking how they vote so that users can make informed decisions at election time. IssueVoter is passionate about promoting civic engagement among underrepresented women and is using coLABS funding to enhance their platform offerings, reach more citizens, and pilot a corporate engagement model.

Further information on the current portfolio and its entrepreneurs, as well as profiles of strategic advisors who are recruited to support enterprise development, is available on the coLABS website.
The coLABS investment cycle occurs approximately every three months and accepts applications on its website from ambitious entrepreneurs who are passionate about changing the lives of women and girls through disruptive innovation.

Notes to the Editor

About Gray Matters Capital

Gray Matters Capital (GMC) believes the best investment strategy is to bet on entrepreneurs and market-based solutions. Its vision is to create an empowered and purposeful life for 100 million women globally by 2036. Over the last ten years, the Atlanta-based impact investor has devoted $160 million USD into microfinance and education initiatives, primarily in South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. To accelerate towards its vision, GMC launched coLABS in early 2017 to invest in early-stage pilots that have the ability to demonstrably impact women and girls at scale with boundary pushing innovation. http://www.graymatterscap.com/

To learn more about GMC coLABS, please visit https://gmccolabs.com/. For further inquiries, please contact coLABS@graymatterscap.com.

Gray Matters Capital Establishes coLABS to Take Bets on Ambitious Social Start-Ups that will Drastically Improve the Lives of Women Globally

Press Contact:
Anna Cable, acable@graymatterscap.com

Atlanta, GA, February 1, 2017 – Gray Matters Capital (GMC) believes the best investment strategy is to bet on people, and more specifically, women. GMC’s vision is to create an empowered and purposeful life for 100 million women globally by 2036. Over the last ten years, the Atlanta-based impact investor has devoted $160 million USD into microfinance and education initiatives, primarily in South Asia, Africa and Latin America. To accelerate its progress toward that vision, it is excited to announce its latest Initiative, coLABS, which seeks to develop bold, new social ventures with the potential to drastically improve the lives of women and girls on a largescale.

GMC coLABS’ objective is to challenge the status quo through rigorous early-stage acceleration. Anna Cable, Innovation and Business Development Lead for GMC commented, “We have given ourselves $1 million over the next 12 months to move the needle on critical social issues for women. We will consider any sector, any geography; but, we want an uncompromising focus on the most vital issues that affect women around the world. We want to push ourselves, and our entrepreneurs, to really break the boundaries of existing impact investing models.”

One of coLABS’ first pilots is Aulas Amigas, headquartered in Colombia; Chief Financial Officer George O’Kane commented, “GMC coLABS has been a catalytic push for Aulas Amigas as it helped us jump start our international expansion, providing us with both risk capital and local expertise to build out a promising market entry pilot into India.”

GMC coLABS will focus on supporting pilots by providing capital, rapid prototyping and advisor support. They will look for unique and creative solutions to complex social issues and hard-toreach populations. On a micro scale, these solutions will forge sustainable and scalable models that make women’s lives exponentially better.

On a macro level, they will change societal attitudes that systemically keep women and communities from progressing. For example, how do you create entrepreneurial opportunities for incarcerated women in the U.S. to build financial security and fight recidivism? How do you structure educational and livelihood interventions for human trafficking survivors in Nepal? How can a reproductive health enterprise provide economic growth to rural Uganda while also fighting social stigma that threatens girls’ school attendance?

To take on those social challenges, GMC coLABS seeks passionate, savvy, trailblazing entrepreneurs hungry to get their ventures off the ground. Drawing from GMC’s entrepreneurial culture, coLABS takes a rigorous approach to enterprise acceleration, including early-stage investment capital and advisor support. Ms. Cable notes, “We want entrepreneurs who are ready for a do-or-die type challenge; you’ve got 12 months to make this into something, so how are you going to use these funds wisely to that end?” So, what does it take as an entrepreneur to join coLABS? The initiative is looking for entrepreneurs who are:

  • Tackling hard-to-reach markets, demographics, and complex social issues; 
  • Ready for seed funding ($10,000 - $100,000 USD) to launch an investment-ready pilot; 
  • Piloting revenue-generating, market-scalable models; 
  • Able to eventually scale your model to help GMC reach its mission: improving the lives of 100 million women globally!

The GMC coLABS investment cycle occurs every two months; the next investment decision will be made on February 22, 2017. We encourage you to share this announcement with ambitious entrepreneurs in your network who are passionate about changing the lives of women and girls through disruptive innovation.

About Gray Matters Capital

Gray Matters Capital invests in entrepreneurs who develop sustainable, market-based solutions for low-income customers globally with a focus on education. Its founder, Bob Pattillo, is also a founder of Gray Ghost Ventures, First Light Ventures, Gray Ghost Microfinance Fund, and an early investor in Bellwether Fund, ASA Intl, Village Capital, and dozens of individual enterprises. http://www.graymatterscap.com/

For further inquiries, please contact Anna Cable at acable@graymatterscap.com. To learn more about GMC coLABS, please visit https://gmccolabs.com/.