Buddy4Study is a technology platform that helps corporates in designing and implementing their education related CSR initiatives. The startup is working on a transparent model to decrease dropouts and reaching to the students in bottom of the pyramid. It’s bridging the gap between the scholarship providers and scholarship seekers. Further, it is also entering into mentoring and skill development by collaborating and engaging with corporates.
In this interview with IndiaCSR, Buddy4Study CEO Manjeet Singh talks on how implementation system of Buddy4Study has enhanced the scope of scholarship within the CSR spend.
What are the main problems that Buddy4Study is solving?
The mission of Buddy4Study is to simplify financial accessibility for students and disbursement process for providers. We are into the business of solving the problems students face in accessing education and career guidance. More than 75 % of the students in the eligible age-group to pursue higher education drop out of the formal education system every year. Every year lakhs of meritorious and needy students drop-out of education due to lack of funds.
We are working towards eliminating this gap in the education domain and empower individuals who can make a better society.
So, how are you solving this problem?
We have a technology platform which helps students find matching scholarships so that they don’t drop out of formal education due to financial constraints. On one hand, we help students with information on the existing scholarship opportunities, on the other hand we also get corporates onboard and help them design and launch scholarship on our platform so that they can reach out to needy and meritorious students.
Our matching algorithm automatically maps a student with live scholarship opportunities as soon as he/she registers and completes profile on the platform. Further, for offline students, the on-ground team of Buddy4Study undertakes awareness drives, collects offline forms from students and creates their profiles on Buddy4Study. For each new scholarship, an alert is auto-generated for users with matching profiles.
The platform helps scholarship providers in reaching out to their target audience in their target geography in a very transparent manner. Right from scholarship designing, creating easy-to-access-and-use technology for applications, shortlisting, interviewing through cloud telephony and direct fund transfer, Buddy4Study does it all with its advanced technology.
So far, we have helped more than 75,000 students in getting scholarships. Further, we have designed and implemented CSR scholarship programmes of more than INR 100 Crore.
How do you ensure transparency while implementing CSR schemes?
Buddy4Study has developed an AI-based matching algorithm that connects students with the right funding solutions in a very transparent manner.
We have a system wherein we get a large number of applications for each scholarship. For each new scholarship, we se nd alerts to our existing userbase of more than 21 students. Furthermore, we also get applications from new users who organically come to our platform.
We also conduct in-person interviews of shortlisted students in case the selection criteria require it. For interview panels, we also include members from respective CSR teams or corporate volunteers.
Once the fund is disbursed, we have a scholar tracking system through which we keep tracking scholar progress to measure the effectiveness of program and stories of change. We also provide mentoring support to students over their education journey.
What kind of scholarship programme you have implemented and at what scale
To empower student community with scholarships and mentoring solutions, we have collaborated with top corporates. We have need cum merit-based scholarships and talent-based scholarships for students. We have scholarships for students studying from 8th standard to post-graduation.
We have more than 21 lakh registered users across different levels of education. Further, on an average, we have more than 70 thousand students searching and exploring scholarship opportunities on our platform on daily basis.
What are the key challenges you face while implementing Education CSR programmes?
One of the key challenges is lack of our limited bandwidth to provide on-ground application assistance to students. Despite the high internet and mobile penetration, the students in rural areas are yet to be familiar with lengthy process of application. They would still need our support which we are able to offer in limited ways only.
What are the other areas in Education CSR domain that you are expanding into?
We have been the leader in the scholarship domain since 2017. However, there are more areas where students need support to become successful. One of the key areas where students from low family income need support is mentoring and career guidance. We have already started multiple employee engagement programmes where employees are being engaged in the mentoring process of students. We are again a bridge here with our technology well designed to offer collaboration activities.
Education is the domain getting highest share of CSR spent. What is the next level of opportunities for Corporates to expand their Education CSR programmes?
Currently drop-out trend is very alarming in India and only 24% students are reaching graduation. More intervention is needed in education to ensure that students are able to complete their education so that they can pull their families out of poverty.
Second major intervention required is mentoring where corporate employees can guide these students and motivate them to become successful. We are also working on training programs for students in graduation so that they can get jobs and fulfil their dreams.