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Press Release

Convergence grant awarded to advance climate-focused startups and empower women in India

Toronto, 29 November 2023 - Convergence awarded a feasibility study grant to Villgro Innovations Foundation (Villgro) to bridge the financing gap faced by climate-focused social startups in India and help grow the creation of green jobs that economically empower women locally.

The grant will support the design of the ‘Inclusive Climate Action Scaleup Facility’, a USD 1 million blended finance facility that will use credit guarantees to de-risk financing from local financial institutions. The facility intends to create 3-5x leverage and unlock debt financing for small-scale innovative climate-focused enterprises in India and their end customers. The facility will operate with a 5-year plan to reach a scale of USD 10 million. The grant is awarded through Convergence’s Gender-Responsive Climate Finance Design Funding Window, funded by Global Affairs Canada.

Social startups in India are often limited in financing options available to them because they are new to credit, have no collateral, and are working with nascent business models and technologies in stressed demographics. Additionally, the target population of this facility (women end-beneficiaries) does not have the capital and/or risk appetite associated with adopting such green technologies. In cases of financing options for end-beneficiaries, retail loans are available at high interest rates and mostly do not cater to green technologies. Villgro takes a bottom-up approach to climate action in India by working with a spectrum of climate-focused startups that hold potential to create green jobs for women locally.

“Receiving the Convergence Feasibility Study Grant is an honor for us at Villgro, propelling our mission to empower climate-focused enterprises and their end-users. This transformative grant by Convergence will drive the development of our 'Inclusive Climate Action Scaleup Facility,' addressing financing gaps for pioneering enterprises in India,” stated Vibha Tilwalli Sharma, CA, CFA, Lead of Impact Financing at Villgro.

Villgro will partner with local commercial debt providers to unlock financing for climate-focused enterprises new to credit. They will also focus on the design of an alternative credit appraisal mechanism to enable collateral-free lending. Technical assistance will be a core part of the facility to make enterprises ready for debt and to build the capacity of businesses supported by the facility. Finally, job creation for women is at the core of the Inclusive Climate Action Scaleup Facility. To help promote the adoption and use of green technologies developed by these startups, Villgro will work with stakeholders at the community level such as:

  • Distributors or livelihood-based NGOs to take the solutions to the last mile
  • Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs) to generate awareness through demo trade activation events
  • Financing institutions to provide loans for the adoption of these technologies
  • Players in the demand market to build profitable forward market linkages and drive utilization.

This will help ensure greater income and livelihood generation for women employed by these climate-focused enterprises.

“Our goal is to unlock opportunities, advocate for the adoption of green technologies, and catalyze impactful change, particularly for those most vulnerable to climate change, such as women in India.” Ms. Sharma continued.

“Villgro’s Inclusive Climate Action Scaleup Facility has the potential to speed the introduction of innovative green technologies in India that address local needs, while creating green jobs that economically empower women locally. That is why we are supporting Villgro and we’re optimistic that investors applying a gender lens to their investment strategies will be excited to join in,” said Convergence CEO Joan Larrea.

About Villgro Innovations Foundation
Villgro is India's foremost, and one of the world's largest, social enterprise incubators. Established in 2001, Villgro’s mission is to make innovative, impactful businesses succeed in Health, Agribusiness, and Climate Action across India. Since 2001, Villgro has supported 352 social enterprises that have raised over INR 4.28 billion in investments, created 5646 jobs and impacted over 20.8 million lives. Villgro was awarded the Top Incubator Award by the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (GoI) in 2020 and the DivHERsity awards in 2022.

Visit to learn more.

About Convergence’s Design Funding Program
Convergence’s Design Funding program operates as a market acceleration tool providing early-stage capital to support blended finance solutions in frontier markets and nascent sectors to accelerate the number of investible transactions in market targeting SDGs. The Gender-Responsive Climate Finance Window, funded by the Government of Canada, provides grant funding for the design and launch of innovative blended finance solutions focused on the intersection of climate change and gender equality in emerging markets globally. Visit Convergence’s Design Funding page for information on submission deadlines as well as other open windows.

About Convergence
Convergence is the global network for blended finance. On top of market acceleration through its Design Funding program, Convergence generates blended finance data, intelligence, and deal flow to increase private sector investment in developing countries. Convergence’s global membership includes over 160 public, private, and philanthropic investors as well as sponsors of transactions and funds.

Learn more about Convergence:

Media Contact
Karolyn Xie
Head of Communications (interim)
[email protected]

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