Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announced a partnership with funding firm Village Capital to support and invest in education entrepreneurs in India who are serving some of the world’s less privileged students. Winners of up to $75,000 funding will be selected through peer review by fellow entrepreneurs.
The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, set up last year to invest in low-cost private schools and other affordable educational solutions, will work with Village Capital to offer Indian entrepreneurs the chance to receive seed investment. Up to 16 start-up companies will participate in workshops this autumn in which they will be offered mentoring advice from other entrepreneurs, investors and professionals. These entrepreneurs will then assess one another against six criteria, with the top two ranking companies receiving up to $75,000 each drawn from $100,000 and $50,000 of capital committed by the Affordable Learning Fund and Village Capital, respectively.
The programme is restricted to ‘Edupreneurs’ operating in India who serve students at the bottom of the pyramid, seeking market-based solutions to major problems facing education for the poor. Edupreneurs is open to for-profit startup firms, both technology and non-technology companies.
Applications and more information can be found at www.affordablelearningfund.com/edupreneurs
Applications will close in mid-August and selected Edupreneurs announced by the end of August. The workshops will begin in late September and run through late November.
Identifying the best start-ups for investment is a difficult and cost-intensive process for investors. Village Capital, based in the US, specialises in using the power of peer support and mentoring to build investment-ready companies and to allocate capital through peer selection. Inspired by microfinance ‘village banking’, participants coach each other over the course of a programme in order to prepare companies for investment. Village Capital has operated 20 programs globally, serving 350 entrepreneurs and investing in 30; over the past four years, Village Capital has supported 60 entrepreneurs through four programs in India, investing in eight innovative enterprises.
The Affordable Learning Fund will second a staff member to serve as programme manager for the workshops, to provide expertise on subjects ranging from measuring and interpreting learning outcomes to supply chain and marketing.