Graduating a generation beyond poverty
Organisation Twitter: @vittana
Vittana deploys the principles of microfinance to bring student loans to countries where they do not yet exist – letting individuals and institutions chip in with small amounts to together amass enough money to fund a young person’s education.
It can take as little as $800 to give someone the education to almost double a young person’s salary. Vittana’s founders, Kushal Chkrabarti, an ex-developer from Amazon, and Brett Witt, set up the site to increase social mobility – since, as they say, ‘most impoverished students fail to complete their last leg of employable education because they cannot afford the costs. Financing the right education will help graduates get higher-paying, more stable jobs that will allow them to repay these loans, making it a viable financial product for institutions.’
From helping 150 students in Paraguay in 2009, the platform has expanded to successfully kickstart the market for education loans in 17 countries – everywhere from Rwanda to Mongolia, Bolivia to Ghana and Cambodia – reaching close to 10,000 students a year in 2013 and lending a total of $13m, with a return on loans of 98%.
Playfish co-founder and Vittana board member Sebastien de Halleux says, ‘[this] is one of those rare start-ups attacking a truly big existing problem, the fact that one of humanity’s most precious resources is grossly underutilised – the human brain. We estimate that there are well over 100M students who despite being literate lack the skills that would give them access to a better life. Now that’s a project worth investing in.’
Image courtesy of Vittana
Last updated: 18th of July, 2014