Education's Biggest Challenges at the 'Bottom of the Pyramid'

CRACKING THE BOP: Over 780,000 people in India--nearly 70% of the country's population--live on less than $240 a month. For social and education entrepreneurs, this "Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP)" presents a huge opportunity to make an impact. But despite the best of intentions, success stories--whether in the form of companies or affordable private schools--are far and few in between.

A report from Perspectful and GIZ (a German federal aid group), "The BoP Education Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in India," explores hurdles for edu-preneurs trying to address this market, the biggest of which may be "the extreme dependence of education enterprises upon a [human] network." Another is managing expectations: "BoP customers often judge the quality of an education offering through tangible characteristics, which do not necessarily improve learning--such as uniforms, teacher-to-pupil ratios or painted classrooms."

The report offers valuable insights in navigating the already complex and mucky waters of starting up a company in a market where resources and capital are often disconnected. It concludes with an overview of investment strategies from foundations and VC firms.

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