On paper, education is a huge sector. A $100-billion opportunity with 260 million school-going children and 300 million youth searching for education and employment. With government spending on education at around 3% of the annual budget, private capital bringing in around $200 million each year and CSR investment of $500 million as of 2016, it’s not that education has not attracted investment. It’s just not enough for the enormity of the problems we face. The fact that few companies have been able to really scale sustainably makes it hard to show impact and returns.
We look for entrepreneurs who understand the challenges in education and employability and are willing to work on one problem, in depth, to reach the right outcomes while making money. We believe girls and women need to be addressed at each step, from product design to solution delivery. We believe three kinds of capital and support are needed to bring about change:
Innovation capital: For early-stage entrepreneurs breaking old patterns and bringing in new ways to educate and employ, from building teacher capacity and generating micro-employment to delivering chat-based mobile learning.
Scale-up support: Companies capable of scaling need growth support to invest in their product, to forge the right partnerships and to reach the last mile of customers. From enabling jobs for state government job aspirants to fostering 21st century skills and enabling voluntary skills/re-skilling opportunities, this space needs strong companies and focused support.
Ecosystem support: We believe the ecosystem also needs to be nurtured. For example, the National Independent Schools Alliance, an alliance of 55,000 budget private schools can work together to improve quality markers in schools.
Reverse Pitch is like a normal investors pitch, but the roles are reversed. That means the start-up doesn’t present its business to investors but investors and companies pitch their business concept, challenges and the like to start-ups.