Airtel launches initiative to support startups, acquires stake in Bengaluru-based Vahan

New Delhi [India], Oct 25: Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Friday announced the launch of its startup accelerator programme to support growth of early-stage Indian tech startups.

Through the initiative, early startups get access to Airtel’s online and offline distribution network, deep market understanding and ecosystem of global strategic partners. In addition, the company has developed strong in-house capabilities around machine learning and artificial intelligence which could be leveraged to aid the growth of startups. The startups will also get access to advisory services from Airtel’s executive team.

“With the initiative, Airtel aims to support the creation of a vibrant startup ecosystem that contributes to ‘Digital India’,” it said in a statement.

Besides, the company announced induction of Bengaluru-based tech startup Vahan into its startup accelerator programme. Airtel will acquire a stake in Vahan and partner with it in building significant scale to achieve their vision of enabling jobs for the next billion internet users.

Founded in 2016 and backed by YCombinator and Khosla Ventures, Vahan leverages advanced artificial intelligence to match job seekers with employers inside messaging apps such as Whatsapp.

It is focused on finding blue-collar jobs for millions of young Indians in delivery, driving, retail, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), BPO (business process outsourcing) and hospitality sectors with companies such as Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo as clients.

“Early-stage startups in India have some very exciting ideas but face multiple challenges in scaling up,” said Airtel’s Chief Product Officer Adarsh Nair.

“With Airtel’s scale and digital capabilities around distribution and payments, we have the potential to drive accelerated growth of emerging startups that are solving hard problems,” he said.

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