Education is a proven pathway for children to build brighter futures. And that effect doesn’t stop as kids grow up — continuing education and job training open opportunities for people to adapt to new technology and get better jobs to support themselves and their families. But after years of increasing rates of literacy and school attendance, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated progress in education, especially for girls and those living in poverty.
Each year on October 11, the United Nations recognizes International Day of the Girl Child, a day dedicated to promoting the empowerment of girls around the world and raising awareness of the challenges that girls face, including barriers to education. Girls already lagged in global education levels before the pandemic, and now an estimated 11 million girls may not return to their classrooms. Innovative solutions are needed to close educational gaps for girls, help women gain skills to secure employment, and keep education accessible to all.
How fintech powers education
Lack of funding for schools and limited financial support options for students prevent many from getting the education they deserve. We’ve seen how fintech can be a powerful tool to support the education sector by connecting more schools and students to financial services. In Latin America, our Accion Venture Lab portfolio company Henry offers software development courses for people, especially young women, to receive the training needed to pursue jobs in the thriving tech industry. Henry’s platform attracts students like Julieta, who always wanted to learn computer programming and pursue a career in tech but was held back by the costs of education. Because Henry has embedded financial services into their education platform, students are not obligated to pay back their tuition until they secure a job in their new field. This income-sharing agreement allows more women like Julieta to get the education needed for a career in tech, no matter their background, income, or work experience. After completing Henry’s courses, she was hired for a programming job in her chosen field and multiplied her income.
Across the world in the Philippines, access to education — particularly for girls — improved significantly in recent years before the pandemic. As a part of dedicated efforts to achieve gender parity, the Philippines has focused on closing the gender gaps in education and economic opportunity for women. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, women and men have reached nearly equal literacy rates above 98 percent, and female enrollment in secondary and tertiary education even exceeded male enrollment in 2019. Increasing female education rates means that more women are better positioned to earn higher incomes and provide for their families. Doing their part to democratize education in the Philippines, our portfolio company Pintek uses fintech to provide funding for schools and students so that more people from all backgrounds can stay in school. They also support clients like Hacktiv8, an edtech platform that teaches students programming skills to prepare them for future careers in the tech sector. By funding and supporting students and schools, including helping schools to adapt to virtual learning during the pandemic, Pintek propels more young adults to gain an affordable education and seize future job opportunities.
In India, girls are still less educated than boys, and schooling remains especially difficult to access in rural areas. The COVID-19 pandemic led 1.5 million schools in India to close in 2020, impacting 247 million children. Without the ability to continue their schooling, children in India are falling further and further behind. To support India’s education sector, our portfolio company Anthem strives to provide financial solutions for schools. They simplify finance and admin operations for schools and colleges in over 300 cities across India. Their tech-enabled platform allows educational intuitions to manage their cashflows, expenses, and school fees all in one place. By streamlining these administrative tasks at an affordable cost, they help education institutions improve their financial standing and allow them to focus instead on their main goal — providing high-quality education in their communities.
From girls learning to read to women gaining skills to take on new careers, education opens opportunities for women and girls to envision a bright future. We’re proud to invest in fintech startups like Henry, Pintek, and Anthem that are building innovative solutions that get more people into classrooms and closer to achieving their dreams.
Support from our donors helps us to improve the lives of individuals and families in underserved communities. Through our partnerships with inclusive financial providers and investments in fintech startups around the globe, we’re creating a world with economic opportunity for all. Make a gift today to invest in the future of those who need it most.