Washington D.C., May 6, 2002
—The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, will invest US$2 million in Webdunia India Pvt. Limited, a leading Indian provider of multilingual technology and content/media services.
Webdunia enables major clients in software, media, finance, consumer products, and government to deploy Internet-based computer applications and media content in 10 Indian languages. The software is built around the company’s proprietary transliteration platform, patent pending, which allows the user to create local language text using a standard Western keyboard. The transliteration engine serves as a platform for a variety of other software applications offered by the company, including email, search engines, chat rooms, discussion boards, instant messenger, and e-greetings. Webdunia also provides Internet-based media content and operates leading Internet portals in four major Indian languages (Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu).
Launched in early 2000, Webdunia currently employs over 110 people. Together with Walden International and Times Internet Limited, a unit of Bennett Coleman Company Limited of India, IFC invested $2 million in a $3 million capital raising.
Mohsen Khalil, the World Bank Group’s Director for Global Information and Communication Technologies, said, “IFC recognizes the importance of enabling technology in promoting the use and dissemination of information to the larger Indian population through the development of content in local languages. Webdunia is well positioned to tap the large growth potential of this market in the coming years.”
Webdunia’s CEO, Vinay Chhajlani, said, “As the leading provider of Indian language enabling technology and Internet-based content, Webdunia will use this new investment to expand in order to meet the growing demand from clients in media, financial services, industry and government.” Commenting on the new partnership with IFC, he added, “IFC brings a new level of international recognition to the market for information technology and Internet-based services. We look forward to working closely with them in building the business.”
The World Bank Group recently established a Global Information and Communication Technologies Department (www.ifc.org/ict) to promote the transfer of information technologies to the developing world. The department focuses on communications networks and Internet infrastructure projects which are expected to have a multiplier effect in expanding the use of the Internet in developing countries. IFC’s mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding in 1956 through the close of the last fiscal year on June 30, 2001, IFC committed more than $31 billion of its own funds and arranged $20 billion in syndications for 2,636 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC’s committed portfolio at the end of FY01 was $14.3 billion.