Welcome To Education Innovation Mentorship Program
The past few years have seen impactful interventions targeted towards solving the global problem of poor reading skills. However, most of these interventions have not been able to scale and reach large sections of the society for a variety of reasons; a lot of these interventions are initiated in the social development space which often lacks finances and technical expertise to build on initial successes. Unfortunately, innovations that have emerged in the private sector, particularly in the technology sector and in hotbeds of creative business have yet to percolate into the social development space.
With growing convergence of technology and education – fueled by smartphone adoption, cheap data plans, availability and accessibility of media – there is reason to be optimistic. Leaders and entrepreneurs in India are constantly solving problems with a large scale social impact. Innovative solutions are being tested and piloted across the country. Entrepreneurs are working very hard to scale and sustain their efforts. However, major barriers exist in giving ideas some concrete shape. Innovators struggle with finding the right guidance, funds, technical knowhow and scaling strategies. And in order to help, support and inspire social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions, USAID, and CKS under the READ Alliance Project plan to start the Education Innovation Mentorship Program.
The Education Innovation Mentorship Program aims to provide seed grants and capacity building support to early stage education entrepreneurs over the course of four months. The first batch will launch in February 2018. Capacity building support would include, continuous mentoring from a team of experts, ecosystem analysis, piloting, prototyping solutions/products, help develop implementation strategies, networking and future funding opportunities.
What kind of innovative education solutions are we looking for?
We are looking for low cost products/services (both tech and non-tech) to address the early grade reading needs of low cost primary school going children in India. The product or service can be targeted towards one or more of the following users:
- School Administration
- Publishers/Content Providers
- Student (6-14 Years Old)
- Low cost/affordable primary school ecosystem
- Primary School Teachers Program Timeline
Meet The Mentors
- Dr Venita Kaul. Former Director, Center for Early Childhood Education and Development, Ambedkar University
- Brij Kothari. Founder, Planet Read
- Rahul Nainwal. Founder, UnLtd Delhi
- Bhanu Potta. India Board Director, Worldreader
- Dr Aditya Dev Sood. Chairman and Founder – Vihara Innovation Network
- Kartik Pental. Consultant, World Bank
- Naveen Mandava. Co-Founder – IMAX Program (Bangalore)
- Pranav Kothari. Vice President – Large Scale Education Programs (Assessments & Mindspark), Educational Initiatives
- Himanshu Giri. CEO, Pratham Books
- Suman Sachdeva. Education Specialist, UNICEF
Benefits Of Being Part Of This Program
The Education Innovation Mentorship Program aims to provide seed grants and capacity building support to early stage education entrepreneurs over the course of four months.
Capacity building support would include, continuous mentoring from a team of experts, co-working space, ecosystem analysis, piloting, prototyping solutions/products, help develop implementation strategies, networking and future funding opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Education Innovation Mentorship Program?
The Education Innovation Mentorship Program is an initiative of USAID and Center for Knowledge Societies under the READ Alliance Project to help, support and inspire social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to address the early grade reading needs of low cost primary school going children in India.
The program aims to provide seed grants and continuous mentoring to early stage education innovators and entrepreneurs to grow and scale their products or services.
Am i eligible?
Yes, if you meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You are 18 years old or above
- You are an early stage startup somewhere between ideas with a plan to pre-scale stage (typically 0-3 yrs old)
- You have registered or intend to register your business
- At least one founder is working or committed to working full time on the idea
- You idea is aligned to the Program objective
What is an innovation?
The READ Alliance defines “innovation” broadly to include novel business or organizational models; operational or production processes; technologies; and/or products or services that lead to substantial improvement in reading outcomes. Innovation should help produce reading outcomes more effectively, more cheaply, and reach more beneficiaries in a shorter period of time.
I am not registered as either for-profit or not-for-profit. Can I apply?
Yes, but you will need to register your company as a for profit or not-for-profit entity within three months of incubation in order to receive the innovation grant
At this stage i only have an idea, can i apply?
We do work with founders at as early as idea stage. however, we look for unique insights that you have about the problem you aim to solve. thus, we encourage you to apply once you have done a first-hand on-the ground research and have a plan around your idea.
Who will own the Intellectual Property rights of the innovations?
The Intellectual Property rights of the innovation will be owned by the organisation under whose name the proposal is submitted.
I don’t live in India, can i apply?
Yes, you can. However, we will look at solutions that have an impact in India.
I am part of another incubator and/or received grants from other sources, can in apply?
Yes, you can, provided you honour the time commitment and are available for training/orientation
How do you select?
Our selection process begins with an online application. We review online applications on a regular basis and request applicants who are selected for round 1 to tell us more about their ideas and startup plan. Following that, selected applicants are invited for in-person interviews and pitch sessions with our jury members. The most impactful solutions are then selected for the program immediately.
What happens during the program?
The program is designed keeping the needs of an early stage entrepreneur in mind. The selected ideas will be supported with an innovation seed grant of up to INR 10 lakhs and mentoring support for 4 months. The program will also give you access to a network of influencers and funding sources who can support your growth.
The 4 months of incubation include:
- Access to co-working space in Delhi
- 12 Training and Orientation sessions spread over 3 weeks which you are required to attend in person
- 3 Months of mentoring by program partners (these interactions can be virtual as well)
- A concluding event that you are required to attend in person
What can i use the fund for?
Innovation fund is to help you build a minimum viable product for your idea. this involves creation of the execution model, putting a registered organisation in place, a pilot run and refining your model based on the interaction with your first users and the impact it caused. if you have already started working on your idea, the fund will help you reach further milestones taking away some of your funding worries.
Will i be able to choose my mentor?
While the process does not allow for you to choose your mentor unilaterally, we will put in best effort to understand your preference and ensure that the mentor you are paired with is best aligned to your mission and needs.