Aura Venture Fund I continues its strong performance at a Gross IRR of 33.7%, a Distributed to Paid In of 14%, and a Total Value to Paid In of 1.74x
Focus on Social Responsibility
Aura is proud to have supported philanthropic partner, Opportunity International Australia, donating c.$35,000 over the last 12 months
Aura is proud to have supported philanthropic partner, Opportunity International Australia, donating c.$35,000 over the last 12 months, including $10,000 to Opportunity’s India COVID-19 rapid response initiative. Opportunity is a not-for-profit whose work began in 1976, to provide financial solutions and training, empowering people living in poverty to transform their lives and their communities.
In response to India’s devastating COVID-19 outbreak in 2021, Opportunity worked closely with community-based microfinance partners to provide emergency relief to communities at the last mile, where essential health services were decimated.
India’s second COVID-19 wave, peaking in May 2021, overwhelmed India’s healthcare systems, creating significant hospital bed and oxygen supply shortagesi. Prior to the second wave in late February, India had c.12 million confirmed cases and c.150,000 deaths. By the end of August 2021, India had c.33 million confirmed cases and c.450,000 deathsii. However, these official figures are theorised to be significantly lower than reality. Dr Aniket Sirohi, a municipal health official in south Delhi noted that, “Somehow the numbers are not getting recorded or not shown or getting missed. India always had a poor record of maintaining these things. We have a lot of population. So there’s a bit of a problem with coordination – especially in times like this when 50% of my staff is sick”iii. A study released by the Center for Global Development uses three different methods for estimating the number of deaths in excess of official records. The study approximates excess death to be between c.3.4 and c.4.7 million, representing 8 to 10 times multiple on reported numbersiv.
Through the second COVID-19 wave and beyond, Opportunity has aimed to and continues to:
Prevent infection in vulnerable populations at risk by tackling rampant misinformation. Opportunity has been able to reach c.140,000 people per day, delivering critical COVID-19 education. SMS messages and two-minute videos are widely circulated via Whatsapp, and posters put up and audio messages played in shops across 500 rural villages;
Distribute food ration kits, sanitary kits and medicine so that those with mild COVID-19 symptoms can isolate safely. More than 500 people are currently isolating in 70 village-level quarantine centres. These centres are located in unused school buildings, churches or government offices. Additionally, Opportunity has distributed 1,000 ration kits to families in urban slums and rural communities;
Provide basic care beds, oxygen, and temporary ambulance service to those with worsening COVID-19 symptoms. Opportunity has worked to provide over 1 million rural households access to emergency transport and is working to place oxygen concentrators at 50 of Opportunity’s partners’ regional branch offices. Additionally, Opportunity’s partner has secured two medical vans to serve the containment zones in the urban slums of Pune, in the hardest hit state of Maharashtra; and
Provide remote care through telemedicine to assist in managing COVID-19 cases and mental health are home. Opportunity’s partners are currently providing free telemedicine services through 366 clinics or directly through a mobile app available to 1 million Indian households. Additionally, OIA’s partner provides a 24/7 multilingual toll-free helpline, covering 60,000 calls per month.
India has and continues to experience significant vaccine supply constraints. In April 2021, the Indian Government approved a 45.7 billion rupee grant for local COVID-19 vaccine makers, Serum Institute of India (SII) (manufacturing Covidshield) and Bharat Biotech (manufacturing Covaxin). Whilst production by SII increased from c.70 million doses per monthv to c.150 million doses in August 2021, Bharat Biotech struggled to reach targets, delivering c.20 million doses in August 2021vi. International vaccines have also experienced delays, with local production of Russia’s Sputnik V expected to begin production in September 2021, and vaccines including Novavax, Moderna and Pfizer have not applied or have not yet received approval by Indian health authoritiesvii. At the end of August 2021, India’s fully vaccinated population was c.11% and partially vaccinated population was c.36%viii. It can be extrapolated that, based on current production capacity, India would require c.12 months to deliver the remaining c.2,000 million doses required for the remainder of its c.1,400 million populationix.
To expedite mass vaccinations to improve immunity in India, Opportunity’s partners, with their trusted presence in local communities where they provide microfinance services, are:
Collaborating with local governments to organise and facilitate vaccination camps. Opportunity’s partners have facilitated over 9,050 vaccination camps, administering over 1.2 million doses of vaccines. Opportunity’s partner camps have a focus on health equity and servicing high need communities and populations, including tribal communities, other remote rural communities, seniors, disabled and transgender groups. It costs approximately INR 100 for individuals to get vaccinated, including direct transport fees and indirect lost wages. Vaccination camps are set up in local villages, eliminating the need for residents to travel. Opportunity’s partners are planning to organise c.15,000 camps through to November 2021.
Positively, the number of new COVID-19 daily cases has decreased over c.400,000 in early May 2021 to c.40,000 in late August 2021x. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, from the World Health Organization, stated that India seems to be “entering some stage of endemicity” i.e., COVID-19 is present but manageablexi. The fall in the number of cases, despite low vaccination rates, may be a result of high seroprevalence - the level of pathogen in a population as measured in blood serum. Recent research from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggests that two thirds of India’s population has either been exposed to COVID-19 or has been vaccinatedxii. ICMR tested antibodies in blood samples from residents across 70 districts of 21 states, resulted in an overall seroprevalence of 67.6% in July 2021, a significant increase from 24.1% recorded in December 2021xiii.
As India moves into an early recovery period, Opportunity International Australia, working with community-based microfinance partners, has cautiously shifted its focus towards economic recovery, aiming to:
Create resilience against future waves of infection by collaborating with local governments to organise and facilitate mobile vaccination camps and extend the reach to 12 - 18 year olds;
Restart small businesses by supporting small and micro businesses to rebuild by providing loan top-ups and financial protection products like COVID-19 insurance for frontline workers;
Reinvent social protection models by building awareness, providing eligibility screening and supporting enrolment and access to social protection including government welfare programs;
Rebuild the health workforce to restore services by training and upskilling health workers like nurses and general duty assistants to address the shortage of human resources for health, with a focus on employability; and
Reimagine care for COVID-19 co-morbidities by launching primary health programs to tackle chronic, non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension, which increase the severity of COVID-19 infection.
Aura Group is proud of the incredible work undertaken by Opportunity and will continue to support Opportunity International Australia as a philanthropic partner and donor.
Source: Data in relation to India Response provided by Opportunity International Australia (as at 7 September 2021).
[i] COVID-19 in India: Cases, deaths and Oxygen Supply (BBC, as at 29 April 2021).
[ii] India (World Health Organization, as at 11 September 2021).
[iii] “India’s Pandemic Death Toll Estimated At About 4 Million: 10 Times The Official Count” (NPR, as at 20 July 2021).
[iv] “Three New Estimates of India’s All-Cause Excess Mortality during the COVID-19 Pandemic” (Center for Global Development, as at 20 July 2021).
[v] “India Approves $610 million Grant” (Express Pharma, as at 20 April 2021).
[vi] “SII, Bharat Biotech made additional 40-50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine available in August” (MoneyControl, as at 2 September 2021).
[vii] “India vaccination: Does it have enough doses for all adults?” (BBC, as at 3 August 2021).
[viii] Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations (Our World in Data, as at 11 September 2021).
[ix] “India Population” (Population U, as at 11 September 2021).
[x] “Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases” (Our World in Data, as at 11 September 2021).
[xi] “Covid-19: Is India entering endemic stage of coronavirus?” (BBC, as at 26 August 2021).
[xii] “2 of 3 Indians have Covid-19 antibodies: ICMR serosurvey findings explained” (The Indian Express, as at 26 July 2021).
[xiii] “After India’s brutal coronavirus wave, two-thirds of population has been exposed to SARS-CoV2” (The Conversation, as at 20 August 2021).
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