As per a recent press release from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in its 7th meeting on the February 11, 2017 VCIC examined requests from 11 fund managers and cleared for sanction requests from 9 Funds aggregating Rs. 300 crores. It is yet to be known which startups are going to receive these benefits. VCIC has big names from the corporate world like viz. Mohandas Pai, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Saurabh Srivastava, H.K.Mittal, Prof. Vaidyanathan, Kiran Karnik. Some of them run internet based companies themselves, or are Limited Partners in funds that invest in startups.
The current ecosystem with a number of struggling VC funded startups are not in the radar, and might not get any benefits from SIDBI. It may be recalled that the government had announced establishment of Rs. 10,000 crore fund of funds to support AIFs who invest in Startups. This money will be released spread over two finance commission cycles (14th and 15th viz. till 2025) based on progress under the Scheme. An amount of Rs. 500 crore has been released so far to SIDBI which is managing the programme. It may added that SIDBI is also operating various other fund of fund programmes investing in MSMEs and Startups viz. India Aspiration Fund [IAF] launched formally by Hon’ble Finance Minister in August 2015, ASPIRE Fund focused on agri and rural enterprises launched by Hon’ble Minister for MSME last year and Rs. 200 crore on behalf of LIC.
Out of the those cleared earlier by VCIC, SIDBI has so far accorded formal sanction, for an aggregate contribution of Rs. 1619.25 crores after undertaking detailed appraisal and due diligence (including Rs. 1580 crore under IAF/FFS and Rs. 39.50 crores under ASPIRE). Operations under IAF and FFS are complementary as both target startups and the exact coverage depends on the status of compliance to the guidelines under these funds at the time of signing of the contribution agreements. FFS initially focussed on motivating AIFs to float schemes which will invest in startups alone. With difficulties expressed by the industry in this regard, the government is re-examining the issue. With the modification proposed, coverage under FFS is expected to stand at around Rs. 600 crore in respect of 15 AIFs by March 31, 2016.
These programmes are serving the objectives with which these funds were formed. For example under IAF based on the drawals of Rs. 177 crores made, the investments by the supported funds are reported to be in 124 MSMEs/Startups for an aggregate support of Rs. 452 crores. Thanks to the rise in AIFs supported under the above programmes, there is significant investment happening in startups as well, with current year expected to close with around 150 startups receiving Rs. 588 crore. This is expected to grow fast in the next year as investments by AIFs supported pickup. The investment in startups by the 15 funds as aforesaid is likely to investment approximately Rs. 187 crores in startups by March end.
The story of IAF and FFS is in line with the industry trend. AIFs have a long investment / divestment cycle of 7-10 years with investments beginning a good 6-9 months (or longer) after an AIF gets its approval from SIDBI and scales gradually thereafter. It is expected that the investment in startups by the Funds supported under FFS may cross Rs. 1200 crores over next twelve months as they raise the balance contribution from other investors and pick up the pace of investing.