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Education – UpEffect Blog https://www.theupeffect.com/blog Amplifying the voice of mission-driven companies Sun, 14 May 2017 22:02:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/cropped-Favicon-32x32.png Education – UpEffect Blog https://www.theupeffect.com/blog 32 32 Why education is often taken for granted https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/why-education-is-often-taken-for-granted/ Thu, 25 Feb 2016 12:05:53 +0000 https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/?p=776 ‘The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows’ Sydney J. Harris For many of us the acceptable route to a sufficient level of education is through the attainment of academic qualifications, such as diplomas and degrees, but, that is not the norm for all of us, either by choice or by circumstance. Unfortunately over 1 billion of …

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‘The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows’ Sydney J. Harris

For many of us the acceptable route to a sufficient level of education is through the attainment of academic qualifications, such as diplomas and degrees, but, that is not the norm for all of us, either by choice or by circumstance. Unfortunately over 1 billion of the world’s population is illiterate due to a lack of access to educational services or just simply being unable to afford school fees. Education is something that is often taken for granted. Many of us are fortunate enough to be raised in societies where going to school is second nature with libraries scattered around and teachers and facilities that can cater to our learning requirements. However, there are those of us in the world who don’t have unwavering access to educational content and have to make do with what they can. In some developing countries schools are over-flowing with children eager to learn but there just aren’t enough resources to ensure that they are efficiently provided for.

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There are many of us whose skillset aligns more with the creative and others who are more into STEM as well as those who are lucky enough to champion both. Aside from the academic, school is a social experience, where we fall down on our faces, both literally and figuratively, learn about people and triumph when faced with adversity. A lot of the time we look back at the lessons that we learned more so than the contents of those that we attended. Once we’ve finished school we want to be able to say ‘I may not have liked it all of the time, but ultimately, I grew from the experience’ and then transfer this knowledge into our future endeavours, whether it be personal or professional.

In many countries parents have to pay school fees for their children, in numerous instances their actual income is significantly lower than someone on minimum wage. There is a common misconception that the educational bodies in the developing world are subpar so people from such countries are under-qualified. Two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. It is often the case that they are predestined careers that do not go beyond the household, therefore little weight is placed on their academic competence. 

Children from grade 2 attend outdoor classes at Bairy Harin Mary Government Primary School at Palashbari, Gaibandha on 5 September 2013.
Children from grade 2 attend outdoor classes at Bairy Harin Mary Government Primary School at Palashbari, Gaibandha on 5 September 2013.

There are so many things to learn about that go beyond STEM subjects. Geography, history, sociology, there is an abundance of things to learn just by merely leaving your homes and stepping out of your comfort zone. There are various social entrepreneurs who endeavour to educate others through unconventional means. Such social entrepreneurial ventures include Bravehearts Expeditions, which is an outdoor education centre for Lake Volta. Braveheart Expeditions attempts to take people out of their comfort zones by pushing them into experiences that go outside of the norm, like survival training.

There never comes a point in life when we have learnt enough. Education goes beyond the academic, it is reinforced by our family, peers and communities. It shouldn’t be recognised as a burden that is time consuming and ultimately redundant. It goes past the institution and as much as it is cliched, knowledge is power, and that power is transferable. There are so many potentially phenomenal world leaders, politicians, teachers, doctors, Nobel Peace prize winners and social entrepreneurs whose talents and abilities go amiss and unrecognised by both themselves and the world because they never had access to a proper education. In an ideal world we could tap the heels of our ruby slippers and education would become accessible to us all but until someone creates an algorithm or an app for that we’re going to have to rely on our own power.

‘Education is not preparation for life, it’s life itself’  John Dewey

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Tech entrepreneur says to keep learning, listen to feedback and hire carefully https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/libraryforall/ Mon, 13 Apr 2015 19:04:24 +0000 https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/?p=470 Last week we interviewed Forbes 30 under 30 Tanyella Evans, 27, the co-founder and COO of Library For All, a tech non-profit based in New York that is committed to unlocking knowledge and opportunities for those in developing countries with limited access to educational materials. Tanyella and her co-founder Rebecca take on this mission with their cloud-based library of e-books. …

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Last week we interviewed Forbes 30 under 30 Tanyella Evans, 27, the co-founder and COO of Library For All, a tech non-profit based in New York that is committed to unlocking knowledge and opportunities for those in developing countries with limited access to educational materials. Tanyella and her co-founder Rebecca take on this mission with their cloud-based library of e-books. In areas where books are scarce but the mobile networks are growing, Library for All’s cloud-based library is a simple yet innovative tech-based solution to the critical need for educational materials. The platform is device agnostic and easy to use, and it is significantly more cost effective and sustainable than building and maintaining physical libraries.
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Why did you decide to tackle the problem of people not having access to educational materials in developing countries?

In 2011 I was the Executive Director of a small NGO working in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In 2010, the country faced a devastating earthquake that killed over 200,000 people, and our work was focused on relief and rebuilding. A beacon of hope in the community was a high school we built– one of the first free high schools in Port-au-Prince. We laid the foundations for 900 students, but over 3,000 students enrolled. We had to go back to the drawing board. I realized then that we needed a scalable solution to provide people with the dignity of access to education, to enable them to shape their own future.

A few months later I had coffee with my (now) co-founder Rebecca in New York. She had moved to Haiti after the earthquake, and had seen school after school with no access to books. So she had begun to dream – of a cloud-based library of e-books, powered by mobile phone networks, that would provide access to local language educational content on mobile phones and other low cost devices. This idea instantly struck me as possible. I knew it was the scalable solution to the lack of access to educational materials, and we teamed up to launch Library For All in 2013.

 

What was the dream when setting up Library For All?

All of us at Library For All share the same belief that education is the key to unlocking knowledge and opportunities for people across the world to create better futures for themselves. Our belief is echoed in research too: studies show that if all students in low-income countries acquire basic academic skills by the time they finished primary school, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Our mission is to provide the students around the world who are not currently learning the basics of reading and writing with access to the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. We plan to reach 5 million people with access to educational materials by the end of 2017. This is just the beginning for us – we know there are 250 million children who are not learning the basics of literacy and numeracy, so we have a lot of work to do!

Fenickson with Library

How has Library For All impacted the areas where you have launched? 

Since October 2013, our Library has reached around 2,000 students in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo through our pilot programs. Through months of testing and evaluation on the ground, we have focused our attention on curating content that is culturally relevant and available to students in their local languages. While our content is sourced from international resources and local publishers, it is also vetted by local educators and experts who understand our students and their learning environments. In our pilot school in Haiti, many students had never seen a book about Haitians before, let alone a book in their local language, Haitian Creole.

We listen to feedback from our local partners and collect data to assess our impact and learn how we can improve. So far, we have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from each of our program schools. In particular, we are working with local partner organizations En Classe and World Vision to evaluate our Library’s impact on literacy rates among students in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We look forward to sharing the impact of the new influx of reading materials in our students’ progress by year-end.

 

How would you describe the journey of setting up a business? 

Starting a business, whether it is a for-profit, non-profit or hybrid enterprise, is an experience of a lifetime. It is all-consuming, overwhelming and hugely rewarding. I have realized that it is so important to have a business that you really believe in with every fiber of your being because it will become all that you think about all day! I thought that the start was the hardest when I was in it, but now I think that transitioning from start-up to sustainable enterprise – establishing practices and ensuring culture remains deeply rooted – is much harder.

 

What role does education play in the life of an entrepreneur? 

You have to keep learning as an entrepreneur. I am constantly reading business books, blogs, and magazines to gather insights for myself and for my organization. You owe it to your team to be the best leader you can be. I also find it exciting to read about ideas – new management practices or business tools – and then get to implement and try them out with my team! If they work, we adopt them across the organization.

 

What is the biggest challenge that you have faced when setting up Library For All? 

The biggest challenge has been the upfront investment in technology. Tech by nature is very capital intensive. Despite our limited resources, we have been fortunate enough to attract extraordinary tech talent at each stage of our growth to help us get to the next level. It’s the passion that attracts great employees, and for techies especially, it’s the opportunity to work on some really interesting, complex problems that will ultimately transform the course of a human life, a community, or even a nation.

 

What is the one thing you wish people had told you before you started your entrepreneurial journey? 

I wish people had told me to hire carefully – it’s easy to hire talented people. But it’s not easy to hire the right talented people for what the organization needs.

 

Building a platform for e-books and then partnering up with mobile phone networks to deliver this service sounds like a daunting task that would make quite a few people hesitant to even start. What advice would you give to someone in that situation? 

Yes, it’s a huge vision! But in comparison to the scale of the problem, our goal to reach 5 million individuals across the developing world is just a start. There are 250 million children across the developing world who are not learning the basics of literacy and numeracy, even after 4 years of formal schooling. This tells me that schools in developing countries are not able to deliver even a basic education, due in part to a lack of access to books to teach. Yet 6 of the 7 billion mobile phone subscribers live in the developing world – so there is a clear opportunity for Library For All to help address this problem with our cloud-based platform. So if I were to give advice, I would say make sure that your enterprise is solving a real problem faced by your users or customers. If you are sure that it does, then be bold and aim to solve it for as many people as you can.

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In your opinion and based on your experience, what does it take to run a successful organisation?

I think it takes a futuristic tendency – to be able to look into the future and imagine what the world could be like if your enterprise existed. This is really important because you will cling to this view of the world a great deal in the first few days, weeks and years. Your survival as an enterprise depends in large part on convincing other – customers, investors, employees – that this future can exist and that it will be amazing.

 

You co-founded Library For All with Rebecca McDonald. How important is it to find the right partner to start an entrepreneurial journey? 

I have seen successful enterprises with a sole entrepreneur, and with co-founders, and I think both can work. I don’t think you can necessarily go out and recruit a partner. In my opinion, it either emerges organically or it doesn’t. For Rebecca and me, our friendship was first, and it always will be. We back each other 100%. A partner is the most amazing asset to have when things get tough, but don’t be afraid to go it alone.

 

What advice would you give to a young social entrepreneur? 

I have always been an old soul, but I think being young brings with it the benefit of heady idealism that is very helpful when starting out. Surround yourself with mentors and advisors and don’t be afraid to ask for help when the going gets tough. Use your youth to your advantage to win friends when you can!

 

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Helping youth realise their dreams is fundamental to creating change https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/helping-youth-realise-their-dreams-is-fundamental-to-creating-change/ Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:00:04 +0000 https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/?p=390 Grace Kinda, is the founder and executive director of SAFWE, a social enterprise aimed at advocating for and supporting collaborative partnerships for community development. She’s a Zawadi Africa Education Fund Scholar, and currently a graduate Clinical Counseling student at Villanova University, USA.   What was the dream when setting up SAFWE and the Starting up Development Initiative? My dream for setting …

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Grace Kinda, is the founder and executive director of SAFWE, a social enterprise aimed at advocating for and supporting collaborative partnerships for community development. She’s a Zawadi Africa Education Fund Scholar, and currently a graduate Clinical Counseling student at Villanova University, USA.

 

What was the dream when setting up SAFWE and the Starting up Development Initiative?

My dream for setting up SAFWE was to empower communities by advocating for and providing support for women empowerment and education initiatives. We partner with local and international development partners to support sustainable social ventures in our communities by providing training, creating and conducting awareness campaigns, and one-time financial backing to our community partners.

 

It’s commendable that you fully intend to use the education you are currently acquiring to go back and support communities within your home city: Nairobi. How do you plan to get more people to follow in similar footsteps?

I believe that information is power. Providing youth a platform to learn, test out new ideas, challenge “norms” and actualize a dream within and beyond  their communities is fundamental to creating change. With our Youth Advocate Program (soon to be launched) our goal is to create an online “think tank” – what better way to gain validation and support of your ideas that to bounce your ideas off with your peers!

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How would you describe the journey of setting up a business?

I would say that journey to create a business requires a great deal of patience. Aside from the legal logistics, as a solo entrepreneur I have had to handle most aspects of business development, outreach, and operations myself. I am still on a continual process of building and actualizing my business goals.

 

What role does education play in the life of an entrepreneur?

Education is not just what you learn in a formalized institution. I have learnt so much from internship opportunities such as HIV and education advocacy organizations which helped build my skills and inform many of the decisions I make at SAFWE. I believe that formalized education helps frame your experiences in a way that make you understand the bigger picture.

visaa_safwe_2014 053

What is the biggest challenge that you have faced when setting up your social enterprise?

The biggest challenge so far I would have to say has been communicating with and convincing potential partners to partner up on our projects. Even with research supporting project ideas and financial backing, it is still somewhat an uphill battle to convince partners to commit their time and resources to seeing projects to the end.

 

What is the one thing you wish people had told you before you started your entrepreneurial journey?

Do not get discouraged! Every failure presents a unique opportunity. I have often set goals that have either been unmet, or have not met my expectations. Learning from my mistakes has understand the potential behind these failed goals and have – believe it or not – allowed me to think outside the box on how to solve the challenges I face.

 

In your opinion and based on your experience, what does it take to set up a successful business?

Setting up any successful business requires you to really LEARN about your consumers. To do this, patience – often requiring many days and nights researching, asking questions and planning – is fundamental to this process. You have to be an expert and be able to stand firmly behind your product. You have to convince yourself before you convince others that you can be successful.

 

Do you believe age has an influence on the change you can create?

I believe it does. I think that young people are often sidelined in development because we have not “seen enough” or “been tested enough” or “worked on the field” to have a legitimate voice. Given an opportunity, young people have shown time and time again that we CAN, go against the grain and effect meaningful change. At 25, I am ready!

 

Given your interactions with sustainable projects, what do you measure sustainability based on?

I ask myself 1 question when thinking about sustainability – “At the end of our partnership, can this project stand alone, be better established or evolve into something better?” If I cannot answer yes to any of these questions, then we go back to the drawing board.

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What advice would you give to a young social entrepreneur?

Believe in yourself. Believe in your idea, that you are up to the task and set your mind to it. Believe that you have the resiliency to bounce back and that it is okay to experience failure. Also, keep your mind to your goal and the positive impact you will have with your business. Let this be your guiding light.

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Inspiring Individuals and Communities to Create Social Value https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/inspiring-individuals-and-communities-to-create-social-value/ Fri, 11 Jul 2014 09:25:00 +0000 https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/post/64373787514 History has conveyed that certainly one of the most sustainable and powerful instruments for empowering global development has been education. Community workers and philanthropists who have dedicated their lives to serving poverty-stricken areas across the world have universally agreed that education has been the only long-term resolution for getting communities on their feet.   Indeed, education is a powerful weapon …

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History has conveyed that certainly one of the most sustainable and powerful instruments for empowering global development has been education. Community workers and philanthropists who have dedicated their lives to serving poverty-stricken areas across the world have universally agreed that education has been the only long-term resolution for getting communities on their feet.

 

Indeed, education is a powerful weapon but adding an ‘entrepreneurial’ flavour creates a much broader avenue. Social entrepreneurship education equips individuals and communities to construct a durable resolve for any type of challenge.

 

Every individual is faced with a problem that directly or indirectly impacts his or her day-to-day activities and this can be in both developed and developing communities. Whether it’s those that wake up with a roof or those that wake up witout a roof, both encounter different kinds of challenges but personal obstacles nonetheless. Teaching these individuals how to build a business with a social purpose that positively impacts people, communities, environments and economies equips them to avoid dependency on external bodies when addressing problems.

 

How this can be achieved is quite simple. Individuals can be convinced that they can take matters into their own hands by empowering them from an earlier age with the belief that creating social impact is achievable by anyone as long as creativity is present. Creativity facilitates the appreciation of novelty and theorists have verified that meta-cognitive processes involved in creativity can be taught, [1](Clapham, Maria M. 1997).

“By manipulating cognitive components, entrepreneurship can be shaped and entrepreneurs can be made essentially,” [2] (Busenitz and Barnet, 1997; Baron, 1998).

 

Therefore, teaching individuals to creatively exploit market gaps allows them to captilise on any opportunity as long as the window is open. Combining this with teaching on community development will intrinsically inspire students in schools to attempt the route to social entrepreneurship in order to create social value.

 

It is unfortunate that such notions are not being instilled in children on a larger scale and they are not able to benefit from this inspiration. If parents were to dig deeper into the curriculum of their children’s schools, would much be found in the academic teaching of community development?

 

The benefits of social entrepreneurship education are profound and correct implementation not only creates social value for communities but also has proven to foster economic growth on large proportions.

 

Established social entrepreneurs are budding new enterprises to implement this and have already achieved international success. One enterprise is InspirEngage, which has reached 1 million people via its skills boot camps and has created UK’s first social enterprise programme for primary schools.

 

More enterprises are joining the movement to embed community development and social enterprise into the academic curriculum as they realise that championing this will bring about change. If children are equipped to solve social problems from an earlier age, they will grow up in a society designed to ‘give back’ via a phenomenal domino effect. The world will change when our children are educated and are prepared to positively impact local and global communities.

 


  1. [1] Clapham, Maria M.(1997)’Ideational Skills Training: A Key Element in Creativity Training Programs’, Creativity Research Journal,10:1,33 — 44
  1. [2] Busenitz, L. W., & Barney, J. B. (1997) Differences between entrepreneurs and managers in large organizations: Biases and heuristics in strategic decision-making. Journal of Business Venturing, 12(1): 9-30.

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Cultivating Entrepreneurship and Education in Developing Countries to Spike Economic Growth https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/cultivating-entrepreneurship-and-education-in-developing-countries-to-spike-economic-growth/ Thu, 22 Aug 2013 09:35:03 +0000 https://www.theupeffect.com/blog/post/58995652527 Let’s start off with a little exercise: try to analyse your life for a few minutes and identify the learning opportunities available in your environment. Try to think of the number of people that are or have been acting as mentors, the inspiration you can find in your surroundings and the number of supporters that help you through the steps …

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Let’s start off with a little exercise: try to analyse your life for a few minutes and identify the learning opportunities available in your environment. Try to think of the number of people that are or have been acting as mentors, the inspiration you can find in your surroundings and the number of supporters that help you through the steps you take in your day-to-day activities. How many did you count? For most of you, I am guessing quite a few.

We are surrounded by several support systems. We live in an age where technology moulds our activities on a daily basis, as the trends change, so do we. If we fall behind, then the world will progress miles ahead of where we are. With a pool of knowledge surrounding our every activity, I consider it as a time of education.

Students understand the value of education, and most entrepreneurs that come from an academic background appreciate those years they spent in the examination rooms. But are students only students when placed with a pen and paper in front of them? I would like to think not. Aren’t we all a part of an academic life cycle which teaches us lessons on a continual basis? Technology provides us with the world’s largest library on our fingertips and we have successful businesses running amongst our lives from whom we can learn from. Education calls out to those of us striving for business knowledge consistently, yet there are people spread all over the world that are unable to benefit from this pool.

A concerning fact is that there are millions of businessmen living on the streets of developing cities who spend hours maintaining their household income in narrow streets of their villages. They leave their families at home early in the morning to find the best spot in the marketplace to sell their products. Once they locate the optimal location, they put together their stall using planks of wood and use the flat surface to line up their merchandise. The wait then begins for shoppers to pass by their stall and notice their products. The only sales strategy they have going for them is the loud sales pitch they are giving to prospect customers complemented with their strong bargaining skills. Once the sun begins to set, they break down their stalls and head home to their wife and children to place the one meal for the day on the dining table.

Explaining economic decline is quite simple after the illustration I just gave you. These businessmen make enough income to get their families through individual days let alone weeks. Their productivity levels remain fairly constant for long periods of time despite the opportunity for tremendous growth. This, of course, means that though the streets are lined up with millions of businesses, the number that has a positive impact on the economy is very minute. The prevalent problem is how these businesses can contribute to economic growth and at the same time, provide a better life for the households of the owners.

University societies spend a large quantity of their time and efforts in encouraging students to engage in positive projects in developing countries all around the world. There is plentiful work being done with education in mind. Including business into the study plan alongside the subject of mathematics, English and science when taking the role of a teacher could be the solution. Teaching the basics of running a business would lead to exceptional results. Providing children with the confidence that they need, would create a generation of inspired entrepreneurs that could tap into creativity leading to the introduction of innovative products that can help fill market gaps. Demand would have to be present for the gap to be fulfilled, which ultimately would lead to market growth. Decreased unemployment and increased productivity would almost instantly lead to an upward spike in the economy.

Education is, in my opinion, the most beautiful gift you can give to someone. As students, we value this gift, especially once we step out into the real world where we are required to apply what we spent years learning. These businessmen are thriving for education and guidance. They need to be given the confidence to innovate and solve economic problems that impact their lives. As a creative and entrepreneur-filled community, it almost becomes imperative that we educate the future generations of those villages on how best to utilise entrepreneurship to provide for their families.

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