Omidyar Network Makes Six New Investments that Address the Needs of the “Next Half Billion”

Over the next five years, 500 million first-time internet users are expected to come online via their mobile phones in India. This online mobile population is often called the “Next Half Billion”.

MUMBAI, India (25 April 2018) — Over the next five years, 500 million first-time internet users are expected to come online via their mobile phones in India.  This online mobile population is often called the “Next Half Billion” (NHB). Omidyar Network recently announced six new investments in the first four months of 2018–Doubtnut, Pratilipi, Healofy, VedantuKaleidofin, and Affordplanall of which align with the firm’s goal of supporting entrepreneurs that serve the Next Half Billion. 

“Omidyar Network is looking to support early-stage businesses with the potential of creating access to jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, financial services, and government services for the NHB,” said Roopa Kudva, Omidyar Network partner and managing director, India. “Our recently published study on the NHB highlighted the impediments this population faces and how their needs differ from the existing middle class. The study analysed the language, social, cultural, affordability, trust, and confidence barriers that the NHB encounter, and these investments highlight six companies that are addressing those barriers in a variety of ways.”

Doubtnut, Pratilipi, and Healofy address the language barrier. Doubtnut is an online learning platform where students can, within seconds, find the answer to a question by simply clicking the image of the question on Doubtnut’s Android app and viewing the corresponding video solution from Doubtnut’s library. Healofy is a social platform with content for new and expecting parents. Pratilipi is a self-publishing platform with more than 190,000 content pieces published by 29,000+ authors. All of these are multi-lingual platforms, and Healofy and Pratilipi support as many as eight Indian languages.

Encouraging Women to use the Internet  
Healofy’s and Pratilipi’s users are predominantly women, and the platforms help this massively under-represented segment overcome the perception of the internet as a ‘bad influence’, for example, something that will damage marriages, and helps this key consumer demographic deeply engage and build comfort with the digital medium. 

Building Trust and Confidence
Vedantu, an online live tutoring platform, allows prospective users to experience a live classroom session before the purchase decision to build confidence. It also assures refunds to students who are not happy with the offering. They have reached over 10,000 students across 400+ cities in India and abroad.

Adapting to Social and Cultural Context
Kaleidofin and Affordplan have created platforms that can relate to the social and cultural context of their customers. Affordplan is a FinTech startup in the healthcare space and its solution helps patients plan, save, and pay for upcoming medical procedures such as dental, fertility, maternity, orthopedics, and eye care needs. A sales team and primary female field agents, drawn from the communities they serve, help the company connect better with their customers and assist them in using technology, including online payments.

Kaleidofin is a FinTech platform that helps underbanked customers, mainly in the informal sector, meet their real-life goals by providing intuitive and tailored financial solutions such as liquidity loans, savings, and investments in mutual funds. Data collection for the Kaleidofin app is done by community workers who understand the customer context and are therefore able to ensure that quality and meaningful data is collected, which helps the company create robust algorithms.

Expanding the Market
The entrepreneurs across the six companies are using connectivity to expand the market to underserved customers.  More than 90 percent of Doubtnut’s users come from Tier 2 cities and beyond–places such as Kohima, Poonch, Islampur, Bankura, and Julurpad-hitherto unreached by online and offline solutions. Affordplan’s consumers have a monthly family income of Rs. 10,000 – Rs 40,000, while Kaleidofin serves customers with a monthly family income of Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 30, 000. 

“The entrepreneurs leading these six remarkable companies are enabling first-time access to a range of basic products and services in an affordable manner and directly addressing the unique barriers that the NHB face in their digital journey. They are expanding the market to traditionally underserved and excluded populations, thus creating opportunities to improve the lives of millions of Indians,” adds Kudva.

Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, Omidyar Network invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. The firm has committed more than $1 billion through investments in for-profit companies and grants to nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights.  In India, Omidyar Network focuses on helping the hundreds of millions of Indians in low-income and lower-middle-income populations, defined as ranging from the poorest in society to the existing middle class.  

To learn more, visit and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork #PositiveReturns.

Read Omidyar Network’s report on Innovating for the Next Half Billion

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