Villgro has recently announced its intention to focus on startups working in school education and skill training. In collaboration with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, which will provide funds, the incubator plans to support at least a dozen early-stage for-profit social enterprises.
Indian education has very noticeable and multiple gaps to bridge. For some this is only a reason for complaints, but those who see the glass half full see this as an opportunity to create innovative solutions crafted for the specific contexts of our country.
The scenario gets even more complex when we consider education for low-income students. Although lack of proper infrastructure remains a problem in many areas, quality of services is the true pain point. Issues like poor quality of teaching, teacher and/or student absenteeism etc dog the education system in various areas and states.
Villgro has decided to focus on the lowest strata of the socio-economic pyramid because it is the one least considered by seed funds, incubators and angel investors. “The complexities of operating in this market and the high variability in financial returns make this the hardest segment to work on,” says Geeta Goel, director, mission investing, at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, adding that these factors “have inhibited the number of quality, customer-centric, education-focused social enterprises.”
The president of Villgro India, PR Ganapathy, adds, “This kind of focused incubation with funding only for school education and vocational training is a first for India. For an entrepreneur, this is the pathway to a long journey of continuous funding, first through Villgro and then through other like-minded education funders, so he or she can have the luxury of focusing only on executing.”
The entrepreneurs who will access the incubation programme can receive up to Rs 65 lakh seed funding; and mentors from different sectors will help them develop their products, as well as business plans.