The Indian Adventure : Avanti Fellows

By this point I’d been in India for 4 days and therefore had adjusted to the time difference and my new surroundings (the heat and humidity on the other hand was something I would never become accustomed to).

Having already worked with one organisation, I knew what to expect, albeit not fully given that all 3 enterprises operated in different sectors.

Company number 2 were called Avanti Fellows. They are an exciting and innovative company, attracting International investment and mentorship, most notably from Harvard University. Indeed the organisation has had such an impact that one of their Co-Founders has been named in the Forbes 30 under 30 to watch.

In India there is a chasm between the super-rich and the very poor. The school system in India isn’t spectacular in terms of quality, yet exams to get into the best further education institutions are immensely difficult. For the wealthy, this doesn’t pose a huge problem as they can afford extra tuition and even to go to a University abroad. However, this isn’t an option for the poor – to put this into context around 21% (close to 250 million) of the Indian population fall below the defined poverty line. Avanti Fellows have created an innovative solution by providing video peer learning facilities at low prices. Students are expected to read the teaching material before the session, then large groups of children (as many as 40) gather in a hot class room in slums and other deprived areas to watch a video of a teaching setting them a task. There is then a break during which all of the students work together to solve the problem, the idea being the students who grasp the concept best teach the others, thus enhancing both the knowledge of the learner and the teacher. They already have some proven results of how this method improves the chances of these individuals passing the higher education entrance exams. Branding and marketing, enhancing brand awareness and attracting more potential students to match their plans to scale was the support they required.

This organisation were genuinely inspiring and a fantastic example of a social enterprise who have a solid business model underpinning the social good which they are trying to achieve.

Seeing the passion of the Founders made it special enough, but having the opportunity to visit a session in action which took place in a slum, not only really put their venture into perspective, but also the standards of living which some people in India are subjected to.

I don’t throw these types of compliments around often (if ever), but I genuinely believe that Avanti Fellows and the work that they do could change the landscape of education around the world. It was an honour to work with them and it is certainly an organisation which should be looked out for.

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