Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF), an education fund run by UK-based education company Pearson Plc, has invested Rs 30 lakh ($50,000) in Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions Pvt Ltd, which operates pre-schools in underprivileged areas in urban Hyderabad. The company will use the funds to open more schools in other parts of the city.
This investment comes as part of PALF’s Edupreneurs Programme, a business incubator that invests in entrepreneurs focused on innovative products and services, seeking to improve outcomes and access to education for learners from economically weaker sections. Sudiksha was one of the two winners of this programme. The social venture had also previously netted investment from PALF and US-based Village Capital as part of the programme.
Founded in 2010, Sudiksha is a social laboratory that works towards designing, training and researching various facets of education. It has implemented an innovative model that recruits educated housewives locally to run branches under an incentivised profit sharing scheme, thus developing the skills of women alongside children. These women are usually educated women with no previous professional employment. They are trained to run franchise locations near their homes.
Sudiskha presently owns and manages 22 pre-schools in and around Hyderabad. Other backers of the company include The Eleos Foundation, First Light Ventures, and the 1to4 Foundation.
“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 founder and CEO, P Naveen Kumar. “This partnership will enable us to not only stabilise its operations, but also further refine new streams of revenue and impact.”
Launched in July 2012, PALF makes minority equity investments in for-profit companies operating in the affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund aims to improve access to quality education for the poorest families in the world. This is the sixth investment made by PALF in India. Last month, it had invested in Mumbai-based Zaya Learning Pvt Ltd, which operates under the brand name Zaya Labs, for a minority stake.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)