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Teaching How to Fish: Skilling for Optimal Employment

Authored by one of our dedicated Social Investor, Dinesh Goel sheds light on the gap between access to academia and real-world skill demand, a hurdle chiefly faced by students from low-income families.

a student learning skills

There is an old saying, If you want to eliminate poverty – teach poor people how to fish instead of feeding them fish.


Imparting the skills in demand is probably the best way to teach low income/under privileged students how to fish.


With higher level of automation every passing year, the set of skills in demand keep shifting and are therefore in perpetual shortage as academia struggles to keep up with the change.


Law of averages ensures the spread of smarts across all economic levels of society. Low-income

population has their proportional fair share of smart and capable students who are held back from

their economic potential primarily due to their inability to fund themselves for education.

Education loans distributed via formal banking channels are typically beyond their reach as they

require collaterals of one type or the other that they are unable to provide. Scholarships are limited in provision that can at best fund a select number of deserving students.


So, what’s the potential solution to financially support many more deserving students? How do we

enable students hailing from low-income families by financing their education at the best-in-class

institutions they deserve to be at, but for their limited means. Mobilizing funds from individual social investors as collective pools to offer collateral fee affordable loans is one powerful way.


Such education will impart skills that will turn them economically productive and the students will be able to repay the loans. Repayments will imply that the same pools of capital can circulate over again to fund many more students and hence have multiplier rotational effect.


Further, funding as loans comes with the repayment obligation and students need to view such funding responsibly vs just a straight donation. Default risk of such loans will be minimal as it is highly unlikely that the students will default on repayments due to an intent issue once they have turned into well paid employees.


Defaults may however occur due to unforeseen circumstances which should also result in delay instead of default. From a broader economic perspective, this helps reduce the incidence of under-employment of such population vis a vis their potential thereby contributing to higher level of employment and GDP per capita. Affordable loans for professional skilling extended to girl students will promote women employment and diversity in workplace. Studies have shown that economic empowerment of women has a positive spiral effect on their families and next generation.


At a micro level, the entire family will benefit from the employment and income generation by every such student. Parents will not need to struggle for their day to day living and siblings may get financial support for their further skilling/education thereby slowly pulling the entire family out of low-income trap. Such students will also benefit the community by acting as role models for many more of their ilk.


Rang De, a well-known P2P funding platform for social impact (www.rangde.in), has recently

launched its first such program towards financing professional education in collaboration with the

newly formed state of the art PW Institute of Innovation (set up by edtech unicorn Physics Wallah)

to teach skills in Artificial Intelligence and Data Sciences. These skills are expected to remain in

considerable demand for the foreseeable future.


It was highly encouraging to see contributions from a fairly large number of social investors on the platform within a few days of the funding launch.

Such social investing achieved at scale can have perceptible contribution towards social inclusion

and help connect a large number of low-income bright students to the economic highway of

progress. High five to the social investors as every drop counts and every student matters!

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