Airtel Launches Startup Accelerator Program; Acquires Stake In Vahan
A pedestrian looks up while walking past a Bharti Airtel Ltd. store in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Airtel Launches Startup Accelerator Program; Acquires Stake In Vahan

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Bharti Airtel Ltd. launched a program to support and accelerate growth of early stage Indian tech startups, and said it has acquired stake in Bengaluru-based startup Vahan.

"With the advent of its Start-up Accelerator Program, Airtel aims to support the creation of a vibrant start-up ecosystem that contributes to 'Digital India'," the company said in a statement.

Airtel's Startup Accelerator will enable early startups get access to Airtel's online and offline distribution network, deep market understanding and ecosystem of global strategic partners.

Airtel has also developed in-house capabilities around machine learning and artificial intelligence which could be leveraged to aid the growth of startups, the statement said adding startups will also get access to advisory services from Airtel's executive team. Airtel also announced the induction of Bengaluru-based tech startup Vahan into its Startup Accelerator Program.

"Airtel will acquire a stake in Vahan and partner with them in building significant scale to achieve their vision of enabling jobs for the next billion internet users," the statement added.

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, busines process outsourcing and hospitality sectors with companies such as Zomato, Swiggy and Dunzo as clients," the statement said.

"Today, early-stage startups in India have some very exciting ideas but face multiple challenges in scaling up. 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," Bharti Airtel Chief Product Officer Adarsh Nair said.

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