IFC to invest in Ronnie Screwvala’s ed-tech venture upGrad

 IFC to invest in Ronnie Screwvala’s ed-tech venture upGrad

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank, has committed to invest up to $45 million (Rs 330 crore) in upGrad Education Pvt. Ltd to pick up an undisclosed stake.

upGrad joins a growing number ed-tech companies to have raised funding over the past year as colleges and universities stayed closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and demand for online learning soared. Byju’s and Unacademy, two of India’s biggest ed-tech startups, and a bunch of others such as Eruditus, Cuemath, Vedantu and Toppr are among those that have received investments.

upGrad is one of India’s largest online higher education platforms with certificate, diploma and degree offerings across data, management, technology and law domains. It is focused on creating an alternative digital platform for college students and working professionals by providing industry-relevant certifications and degree courses in partnership with universities and corporates.

upGrad was founded by Ronnie Screwvala (executive chairman) and Mayank Kumar (managing director) in 2015. Its other co-founders are Ravijot Chugh and Prabhav Phalgun.

The company has been internally funded by Screwvala’s proprietary arm Unilazer Ventures, which he set up in 2012 after selling television production house UTV to Disney. But the company has been scouting for external funding of $40-50 million for almost three years now.

Over the years upGrad has had a string of inorganic expansion moves. Last December, it entered the recruitment segment through the acquisition of Rekrut India Pvt. Ltd, a recruitment and staffing services company. This came soon after Mumbai-based upGrad acquired test-preparation firm The Gate Academy (TGA).

Early last year, upGrad said it had set aside Rs 50 crore (around $7 million) to make up to three acquisitions to augment and expand its product portfolio.

The company reported net sales of Rs 85.14 crore for the 2018-19 financial year. This is believed to have more than doubled last fiscal year.

Ankit Doshi

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