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Village Commerce Startup 1Bridge Raises $2.5M Funding to Rural Districts in South & West India

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 Building on momentum generated through the COVID-19 pandemic with positive tailwinds for the village-tech sector in India, Bengaluru-based village-tech enterprise RubanBridge Pvt. Ltd (1Bridge), a last-mile supply chain & distribution network focussed on the villages in rural India, has raised USD 2.5 million in a fresh round of funding.

 

The funding was led by Netherlands-based impact investor C4D Partners, an early investor since the last 4 years, who firmly reaffirmed its support to 1Bridge and its management team by doubling its commitment. The funding round also included participation from new investors such as KAAJ Ventures (venture fund of Silicon Valley-based serial entrepreneur and prolific angel investor BV Jagadeesh), angel investors like Prashanth Prakash, Founding Partner of Accel Partners; Puneet Jetli, technopreneur and co-founder of Happiest Minds and Aradhana D Chatterjee, a seasoned PE/VC executive. Existing angel investor Prashanth Boccasam, a US-based serial tech-entrepreneur & investor also participated in this round with a significant investment. C4D Partners and Prashanth Boccasam also acquired additional stake through a secondary transaction, providing an exit to a few early shareholders.

 

In addition to this, 1Bridge has also raised its maiden working capital facility from Ananya Finance for Inclusive Growth, an Ahmedabad-based Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) that reaches out to a large section of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and grassroot entities. This deal with 1Bridge marks Ananya Finance’s significant attempt to reach out to companies beyond the microfinance sector.

 

With this round of funding, 1Bridge is robustly positioned to pursue its growth plans over the next 18 months, to:

 

  • Deepen its reach as a supply chain & distribution network across another 10,000 villages by adding 10,000 more entrepreneurs
  • Roll out 500+ ‘1Bridge Experience Centres’ at various Tehsil/Block towns that will enable consumers to touch and feel aspirational products
  • Expand its product & service offerings through strategic partnerships with consumer durables brands & fintech/credit companies who are looking to expand their reach in rural hinterlands; and
  • Strengthen its technology & data platform to make it more convenient for their ‘1Bridge Advisors’ or local micro-entrepreneurs to offer rural outreach and assisted commerce services.

Commenting on this investment, Arvind Agarwal, CEO, C4D Partners said – “We have been actively participating in the evolution of 1Bridge – almost since its inception back in 2016, to now a leader in village commerce. The foundations of the company are built with a strong emphasis on rural consumer experience, assisted commerce platform, terrific execution capabilities and a focus on being capital efficient. We are delighted to continue supporting the team as they embark on their next stage of scale & impact.

 

Prashanth Boccasam, Angel investor said “With 1Bridge’s presence in thousands of villages through its entrepreneur network and technology platform, it is uniquely positioned to understand the needs and aspirations of rural India through the data they generate. I am excited to continue working closely with the team to generate insights that can truly transform access, choice & convenience for our villages.”

 

BV Jagadeesh, Managing Partner, KAAJ Ventures said “With over 700 million citizens residing in the villages of India, it is surprising that very few start-ups have focussed on building a sustainable village commerce model. 1Bridge is a pioneer in this space and I am very impressed with the progress made over the last few years in unlocking this abundance at the bottom of the pyramid. I am excited to work with the team in scaling this model in a profitable way, while delivering significant impact on the lives of our villagers.”

 

Puneet Jetli, angel investor & Co-founder & former CEO, Digital Business, Happiest Minds said “Last-mile supply chain & distribution is still a huge unsolved problem for rural India. I am excited to support 1Bridge as it cracks the code of building an efficient technology led supply chain into our villages.”

 

Gaurav Gupta, MD, Ananya Finance for Inclusive Growth said “Much like our motto, we believe in ‘going beyond finance’, with an urge and ability to serve socially motivated double bottom line enterprises. Having observed 1Bridge’s trajectory over the past few years, we are glad to be aligned with its vision for Rural India over the coming years and hope to transform it together.”

 

Social entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of 1Bridge, Madan Padaki said “We thank our investors for believing in 1Bridge’s vision of bridging aspirations, creating opportunities, ushering abundance to Rural India. With this investment, we aim to expand the network, strengthen our technology & data capabilities, roll-out 1Bridge Experience Zones at the Taluk-level and expand our partnerships for last-mile supply chain & distribution – while pursuing profitable growth.”

 

Launched in May 2016 by Madan Padaki and co-founders Anil Kumar, Chief Operating Officer and M Chakrawarty, Chief of Growth & Partnerships, 1Bridge is a village commerce platform that provides a wide range of aspirational products & digital services at the doorsteps of village consumers. It works with local rural entrepreneurs or ‘1Bridge Advisors’ to help deliver these products and fulfil services through an intuitive mobile-based tech platform.

 

Over the last 4 years, 1Bridge has grown steadily with over 75% year-on-year (YOY) growth and has grossed revenue of over INR 52 crores in FY21 and looking to cross INR 100 crores in FY22. 1Bridge has turned EBIDTA positive in FY21 and has been capital efficient (with a cumulative raise of US$ 1.5 million) as it has built a presence in 70+ districts of Southern India and is presently operational in states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

 

To date, 1Bridge has onboarded over 10,000+ strong network of entrepreneurs, fulfilled 35 million transactions for rural consumers, and served 1.5 million village consumers directly.

 

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