Soros floats investment company for SMEs

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Mumbai, Feb 20 (UNI) In an attempt to spur the small and medium enterprises in India, a new 17 million USD investment company has been floated by the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), Omidyar Network and Google.org.

The investment company, in a release here said that it aimed to crate job opportunities and enable greater economic participation by a large segment of the population.

The joint investment company is expected to provide capital to SMEs in under-served markets.

''With this investment, we will meet the huge demand to serve smaller businesses in India that have little access to finance,'' said Vice President of Soros Economic Development Fund Neal DeLaurentis in the release. ''Long ignored by commercial capital markets, small and medium businesses are an attractive investment opportunity as well as an engine for economic growth for India'' he added.

Many small to medium Indian businesses lack formal funding options because of a market gap between the micro loans offered by micro finance institutions and the larger investments of commercial banks and private equity funders. Most of the existing Small to Medium Enterprise funds make investments in the three to five million USD range, leaving out a significant portion of this market. The Investment Company would target this ''missing middle'' with equity investments between USD 500,000 and USD 3.5 million.

The Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) is a non profit private foundation, part of the network of charitable foundations created by investor and philanthropist George Soros. Established in 1997, the fund's mission was to alleviate poverty and community deterioration.

The fund makes investment in the form of equity, loans, guarantees and deposits in selected banks, micro finance institutions, co-operatives and social enterprise projects worldwide.

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