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The Open Society Foundations in India

The Open Society Foundations, established by George Soros, are one of the world’s largest private funders of groups supporting human rights, justice, and accountable government—with an annual budget in 2020 of over $1 billion.

Open Society began working in India in 1999, initially offering scholarships and fellowships for students to pursue studies and research at Indian institutions. In 2014, we launched an India-specific grant-making program, supporting local organizations that work in three areas: extending access to medicine; promoting justice system reforms; and strengthening and establishing rights, public services, and community living for people with psychosocial disabilities. Since mid-2016, our grant making in India has been constrained by government restrictions on our funding for local NGOs.

The Open Society’s Soros Economic Development Fund is also an active social impact investor in India. Its goals include helping smallholder farmers and small businesses boost their incomes, and making health care, schooling, and financial services more available and affordable to a broader range of people. Since 2008, Open Society has invested over $90 million in start-up and early funding projects managed by Bangalore-based Aspada Investments.

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Nine Facts about Open Society in India

  1. Since 1999, more than 650 students have received scholarships from Open Society to attend some of India’s top colleges and universities.
  2. Our social impact investing began in 2008, when we joined with Google, the Omidyar Network, and the Indian School of Business to create the $18 million SONG Fund.
  3. Our efforts to boost income for smallholder farmers have included investing in new and more responsive agricultural supply chain companies—such as Leaf, SV Agri, and Allfresh—that give farmers better returns on their fruit and vegetable products.
  4. As part of Open Society’s global effort to expand access to medicines, we have supported groups that work to deliver free medicines in India’s public health system, improving access to medicines for over 160 million people.
  5. Our social impact investment helped fund NeoGrowth and Capital Float, two ventures that have provided more than $300 million in innovative and affordable financing to over 40,000 small businesses, supporting employment and growth through the transformation of India’s small- and medium-enterprise sector.
  6. Legal advocacy groups supported by Open Society and other international funders have played a vital role in safeguarding India’s intellectual property laws, enabling the production and marketing of generic, lower-cost versions of new lifesaving medicines.
  7. In India, as elsewhere around the world, Open Society partners with city governments to help fund local organizations that promote community-based support models for people with disabilities.
  8. The investments made by our social impact capital funds have benefited more than 3.7 million people who are poor.
  9. Our investments through Aspada include Be Well Hospitals, a chain of ten hospitals in Tamil Nadu that has improved access to quality secondary care for over half a million patients from lower-income households.

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