Low-cost pre-school chain taps into women entrepreneurs to provide quality education to underprivileged in India

Pearson investment increases affordability and accessibility of education for India’s low-income children

London, UK – 26 June 2014 – Today Pearson (www.Pearson.com), the world’s leading learning company, announces a INR 30,00,000 (USD $50,000) investment in Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions (www.sudiksha.in), the company behind a chain of low-cost pre-schools in Hyderabad, and a winner of the inaugural ‘Edupreneurs’ programme, a partnership between Pearson and Village Capital. 

The investment was made by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), a fund established in July 2012 to support early-stage high-quality education enterprises serving lower socio-economic groups across the world.

India is often featured at the centre of the education debate with some of the world’s lowest achievement and enrolment ratings. According to The World Bank in 2002, India accounted for more than 25% of all out-of-school children worldwide, and in January 2014 UNICEF reported that 12.4% of Indian pre-school age children did not attend school and 6.4% did not attend primary school. The private sector is such that 27% of Indian children are privately educated, and it has increased in value from USD $40 billion in 2008 to USD $68–70 billion in 2012.

India has been a focal market for PALF where it believes it can support entrepreneurial education businesses offer affordable quality education to the millions of underprivileged children.

Sudiksha operates pre-schools in underprivileged urban neighbourhoods of Hyderabad, where there is often a shortfall of education provision. It does so through an innovative model that recruits local women to run branches under an incentivised profit sharing scheme, thus developing the skills of women alongside children. These women are usually educated, married women with no previous professional employment. They are trained to run franchise locations near their homes promoting child-centred learning so students 'learn by doing'. Presently Sudiksha reports having made a difference in the lives of approximately 800 low-income families as a result of their pre-school network.

The investment fulfils PALF’s commitment to Sudiksha as part of the 2013 Edupreneurs programme. Edupreneurs is a business incubator programme that invests in entrepreneurs focused on innovative products and services, which improve outcomes and access to education for low-income learners. Sudiksha was one of the two winners of the 2013 Edupreneurs programme based on a ranking done by its peers in India. Peers consistently scored Sudiksha high on its business model, commitment to education and efficacy, as well as the strength of the founder.

“We are thrilled to invest in our first Edupreneur programme winner. We are excited to work with Sudiksha to learn more about low-cost early childhood education models. Sudiksha is the first example of our desire to help education starts-ups focused on low income populations at an early stage,” says PALF managing director, Katelyn Donnelly.

Sudiksha aims to use the funds to expand its schools to more locations in and around Hyderabad, and to continue to measure and improve the impact it has on young learners.

“In 2014-15, Sudiksha’s plans are to stabilise company operations, pilot a franchisee model with existing and new entrepreneurs and build the base for expansion,” said Sudiksha founder and CEO, P Naveen Kumar.

Naveen Kumar, continues, “We are so excited about this investment because this partnership will enable Sudiksha to not only stabilise its operations, but also further refine new streams of revenue and impact. The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund has remarkable experience in this space and Sudiksha is going to get great benefit.”

PALF vice president, Amar Kumar says, “Our investment in Sudiksha is the latest example of our commitment to improving learner outcomes for low-income populations around the world. We want to invest in high-potential education entrepreneurs who put learners at the heart of their business and strategy. This is what makes Sudiksha an ideal partner for Pearson.”

The investment in Sudiksha marks the sixth in the PALF portfolio and represents the fund's commitment to delivering high-quality education to low income communities in the developing world.

The PALF investment is part of a larger round of funding with co-investors Ennovent, Opes Impact Fund, Village Capital, and Mr. Sadeesh Raghavan. Previous investors in Sudiksha include The Eleos Foundation, First Light Ventures, and the 1to4 Foundation.

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About Pearson

Pearson is the world's leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information, visit www.pearson.com.

About Pearson Affordable Learning Fund

The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund makes minority equity investments in for-profit companies to meet a burgeoning demand for affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund was launched in July 2012 with USD $15 million of initial Pearson capital. The purpose of the fund is to improve access to quality education for the poorest families in the world. We invest in private companies committed to innovative approaches and improving learning outcomes. For more information, visit www.affordable-learning.com

Contact

Emilie Colker
Emilie.colker@Pearson.com
+44 (0)207 010 2329