Dealflow | July 12, 2023

Acumen invests in Gram Vaani to increase accountability in India’s ‘media dark’ communities

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, July 12 – If “democracy dies in darkness,” as the Washington Post says, there’s cause for concern in India, the world’s largest democracy. The country’s press freedom ranking has dropped to 161 out of 180 countries, after media raids and takeovers by people close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Delhi-based Gram Vaani’s content platform helps poor and rural communities create “inclusive, safe, and responsible spaces that allow people to learn, reflect, express themselves and collectivize for positive change,” said Gram Vaani’s Vijay Sai Pratap.

The company reaches three million people in eight local languages with information on healthcare, agriculture, worker rights, child development and governance. 

Acumen led the company’s latest investment round. Gram Vaani didn’t disclose the amount of financing

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Gram Vaani received early funding from the Media Development Investment Fund, which invests in independent media companies in places where few such institutions exist or where they’re at risk. The service allows people “to talk about what is happening in their lives and surface that information while ensuring the accountability of those in power,” said MDIF’s Harlan Mandel.

Acumen counts Gram Vaani as part of its workforce development portfolio.

“We believe that the platform has the potential to empower the disenfranchised section of society to become ‘consumers’ rather than mere ‘beneficiaries,’” said Acumen India’s Mahesh Yagnaraman.