WORLD’S FIRST DEVELOPMENT IMPACT BOND IN EDUCATION WITH EDUCATE GIRLS

In order to improve the quality of girls’ education and attract new investment for social outcomes, the UBS Optimus Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) are launching the first Development Impact Bond in education in London/Zurich – 16 June 2014.

A funding model for the future

Development Impact Bonds (DIB) aim to provide new sources of financing to achieve improved social outcomes in developing country contexts. Investors provide external financing and only receive a return if pre-agreed outcomes are achieved. Funds to remunerate investors would come from outcome payers, usually a donor or a government agency. Financial returns to investors are intended to be commensurate with the level of success. An independent evaluator verifies results to determine success and re-payment.

“This is a world first for international education,” says Michael Anderson, CEO of CIFF. “Development Impact Bonds will focus governments and the aid industry on costing and paying for results. This model can transform the way development is done: new ways of working, and a clear accountability around outcomes for children. We want to test this model, and we want to show the world it can work.”

In India, 3.7 million girls are out of school. In Rajasthan, 40% of girls drop out before reaching fifth grade and for those who remain learning quality is low. 238,000 US dollars, made available up front by the UBS Optimus Foundation, will go to Educate Girls, an NGO operating in government run schools in Rajasthan to enroll and retain girls, as well as to improve learning outcomes for all children. CIFF will pay for social outcomes achieved by the program. This DIB aims to become a ‘proof of concept’ for replication and scale-up in the education sector and beyond.

“This Development Impact Bond marks a turning point in the way social investment opportunities will be conceived in the future”, explains Phyllis Costanza, CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation. “With the expertise of the UBS Optimus Foundation, UBS is in a unique position to create an investable solution targeting the bottom of the pyramid. This model strives to become a financially attractive way for investors to improve the lives of children facing adversity.”

Breaking the cycle of poverty by educating girls

Investing in girls helps disrupt the cycle of poverty. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that educated girls earn more income, will have healthier and fewer children, and are more likely to educate their own children. Educate Girls, a Rajasthan-based NGO founded in 2005, has pioneered a model for providing marginalized girls with more and better education for a lower cost. Since its founding, Educate Girls has enrolled over 58,000 out of school girls and increased girls’ attendance by more than two thirds. Its child-centric creative learning and teaching techniques improve motivation and learning outcomes, having resulted in an increase of up to 30% in learning outcomes across Hindi, English, and math within a year. Leveraging government infrastructure will increase the cost effectiveness of the program.

“India has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school girls in the world, with over three million eligible girls missing out on educationexplains Safeena Husain, Founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls. “The Development Impact Bond pilot is a watershed moment for Educate Girls as it will allow us to innovate, adapt and tailor our programs to achieve the best possible results for marginalized girls and ensure that funders only pay for results achieved. This will help us fuel scale as we attempt to reach over a million girls, and with funds paying only for pure impact, help in expediting transformation in the lives of girls and their communities.”

The Development Impact Bond ensures that funders only pay for results achieved.

In order to establish the DIB as a credible high-quality development finance model, Instiglio, a nonprofit organization that designs results-based financing programs, will help design and manage the process. The partners will also rely on an independent evaluator to measure the impact which triggers repayments. In addition, an external advisory board will ensure expert input and promote transparency and good governance.

About

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation

The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) is a UK based Foundation which aims to demonstrably improve the lives of children living in poverty in developing countries by achieving large-scale sustainable impact. CIFF believes that every child deserves to survive, thrive and mature into adulthood in a supportive and safe environment. The Foundation also supports many projects in the Climate Change arena.

UBS Optimus Foundation

The UBS Optimus Foundation is an expert grant-making foundation established by UBS in 1999. The Foundation works to break down barriers that prevent children from reaching their potential by funding leading organizations to improve the health, education and protection of children.

The UBS Optimus Foundation supports projects in places where children face adversity. UBS covers all the Foundation’s administrative costs so that 100% of all donations go directly to the projects.

About

DIB

1. The key characteristics of a Development Impact Bond are:

▪An outcome payer, which can be a foundation or a government agency, enters into a contract to pay for specific, measurable social outputs and outcomes.

▪A service provider, or a group of service providers, works to deliver these social outputs and outcomes in a flexible manner that is not defined by the outcome payer.

▪Service providers receive up-front working capital from one or several investors, who can be individuals, foundations or investment firms.

▪An independent evaluator assesses the outcomes of the program.

2. The Development Impact Bond model is described in detail in a report by the Centre for Global Development. Read the report: Click here.

3. The DIB model is based on the Social Impact Bond (SIB) model, which has received significant attention in developed economies. At least 10 Social Impact Bonds are in implementation in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere, and at least 50 more Social Impact Bonds are being designed around the world.

4. The World Economic Forum’s 2013 Gender Gap Report ranks India 120 out of 136 on gender gap in educational attainment. According to India’s 2011 census, Rajasthan’s literacy of 67% rate is ten percentage points below the national average. At 53%, Rajasthan’s female literacy rate is the lowest in the country.

Twitter: #educategirls #DIB @UBS

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING

Seema, our hard working Team Balika, from Pali District in Rajasthan
Seema, our hard working Team Balika, from Pali District in Rajasthan.

Seema is a 16 year old girl from Pali, Rajasthan. She lost her father at the age of 11, a tragedy that people in her village blamed her for, saying she was cursed. Seema was miserable. To add to her despair, she was married off to an abusive alcoholic who was twice her age. Eventually, he threw her out onto the street. Seema’s situation, though heart-breaking, is not unique.

68% of girls in Rajasthan are married before the legal age of 18. These girls often drop out of school and begin to work in homes where they are susceptible to abuse, adolescent pregnancy and often have no decision making power. 9 out of 26 ‘gender gap’ districts in India are in Rajasthan, where 40% of girls drop out of school before they reach 5th grade.

Seema was alone, living on the street when our Team Balika member, Sharda, found her. Our Team Balika are the champions of our cause with over 1500 volunteers working towards rejuvenating government schools and improving learning outcomes. Sharda counseled Seema to help her learn to face her struggles with confidence. With Sharda’s help, Seema gained the courage to re-enroll in school, where, after studying for two years, she passed her 10th grade exams with flying colors.

Today, Seema herself is a proud member of Team Balika. She works with Sharda to enroll out-of-school girls, support school teachers, and conduct life skills education sessions. Seema’s ability to overcome her situation is an inspiration.

Our Team Balika members are crucial elements of the Educate Girls model. They go door to door to convince families to prioritize girls’ education. They mobilize communities to form School Management Committees, giving community members a platform to assess schools and influence the local education system. Furthermore, Team Balika helps to increase learning outcomes by working directly with teachers and headmasters to introduce creative learning techniques in classrooms. Their efforts on the ground are not only essential to our success as an organization, but create lasting impact on the lives of people in the communities they serve.

Through the efforts of Team Balika, Educate Girls has enrolled over 59,000 girls. Our goal is to improve access and quality of education for around 4 million children living in underserved communities in India by 2018.

Twitter: #educategirls #impact #genderequality

VODAFONE RAISES OVER INR 10 MILLION FOR EDUCATE GIRLS

Vodafone India one of India’s leading telecommunications service providers, raised more than INR 10 million to facilitate education of over 47,000 out-of-school girls through Giving Championships campaign run by Vodafone Foundation. Over 12,000 Vodafone India employees along with their family and friends participated to raise funds for 8 weeks for NGO partner Educate Girls to enable young girls (6-14 years) in Ajmer, Bundi and Rajsamand districts in Rajasthan to go back to school for one academic year.

The Giving Championships bolster the World of Difference’ (WOD) program in India, a flagship initiative run by the Vodafone Foundation globally. In its third season in India, the WOD program had 33 highly skilled Vodafone employees, identified after a rigorous selection process, working with 29 NGOs for a period of 8 weeks to address women related issues in India. WOD taps into the skills, expertise and passion of employees and enables them to take time out from their regular jobs and work for a charity of their choice. The employees continue to receive their salary and all related benefits from Vodafone India throughout the WOD Program.

Handing over the contribution cheque, Marten Pieters, Managing Director and CEO, Vodafone India said, “The Giving Championships is the Vodafone way of supporting the commendable work being done by select colleagues participating in the World of Difference program. All our employees participated to raise funds this year to support the common cause of educating girls. I am especially delighted that our collective efforts have helped in substantially surpassing the target of supporting 30,000 girls that we had set for ourselves and we will be sending thousands of more young girls back to school.”

Receiving the cheque, Educate Girls, Founder and Executive Director Safeena Husain said, “It is indeed very heartening to have a corporation of Vodafone’s stature support Educate Girls. Vodafone Foundation’s World of Difference program has helped Educate Girls Immensely with fundraising and capacity building at the field level. Vodafone’s contribution will go a long way as Educate Girls attempts to impact 7,500 schools and almost 1 million children in the underserved gender gap districts of Rajasthan.”

Highlighting the program’s success, Rohit Adya, Director External Affairs, Vodafone India said “This year, the Giving Championships in just over a month has achieved strong numbers. Vodafone’s robust network of 454 exclusive retail stores also raised funds and created awareness about girl child education through the sale of special school-themed ZooZoo and Zumi merchandise. I am pleased that through our combined efforts, we were able to successfully raise a record amount.”

Speaking on the occasion, Dhaval Udani, CEO of GiveIndia, that provided the fundraising platform for the Giving Championships, said, “Congratulations to Vodafone for running one of the largest fund raising campaigns in Corporate India by creatively engaging its employees, customers and its various stakeholders. GiveIndia is proud to partner on this initiative through our fundraising expertise and donation platform as Vodafone’s charity partner. We aimed to significantly go beyond the target that Vodafone set for itself and were happy to go well beyond that. ”

Vodafone is committed to contributing to society with a strong belief that what is good for Society is also good for business. Through its Foundation which focuses primarily on Women Empowerment, the Giving Championships will enable girls to access education for one year. Vodafone wishes all the girls a successful life ahead.

About
Vodafone Foundation

Mobilizing the community, mobilizing social change. The Vodafone Foundation in India recognizes the power of mobile technology to address some of India’s most pressing challenges relating to education, health, equality and access. We are committed to enable people and technology to drive innovation, disseminate knowledge, and create shared value to improve lives.

By leveraging our mobile technology in the four areas of m-women, m-education, m-health and m-agriculture, we work in partnership with key charities, development agencies and the community to drive social change on a large scale in India. As part of our social investment program, the Vodafone Foundation in India also focusses on disaster relief and implements the World of Difference program, an unique employee engagement.

In countries in which Vodafone operates, a unique footprint of 27 Vodafone Foundations operate to deliver our social investment program. These programs are directed and chosen by the Foundation Trustees and receive funding from the Vodafone Foundation in the UK as well as their local Vodafone company.

Give India

Give India is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping donors donate to credible, transparent NGOs. It’s a ‘philanthropy exchange’ that does a thorough due diligence on NGOs of a wide range of causes for the donors to choose and donate.

Give India offers a range of 10 causes, 200+ NGOs and 750+ donation options. Every donor gets a feedback report informing them on how their donation has been utilized. Give India does this at a cost of fundraising of 9.1% which is one of the lowest in the world against an average of 30-50% in this sector. Give India has channelled Rs. 200 Crores to NGOs since inception through their platform. The mission of Give India is to propagate the culture of giving.

Twitter: #educategirls @vodafoneIN_Fdtn #vodafone

REACHING OUT FOR HELP: THE STORY OF ANJALI AND RANI

Anjali learning at school in Rajasthan.
Anjali learning at school in Rajasthan.

Anjali is a 9 year old from Rajasthan, India. She loves drawing, watching movies and painting her hands with beautiful henna designs. She goes to school every day and her parents support her desire for education. Anjali is lucky because not every girl in her village has the opportunity to study.

Her cousin, Rani, who is just one year older, got married last summer. In a couple of years, Rani will leave her parents’ home to move with her husband’s family. In Anjali’s school, there is a girls’ parliament called the Bal Sabha (Girls Council). During Bal Sabha sessions, young girls are taught life skills. They have the opportunity to speak up about their concerns, and by doing so, they gain confidence. Anjali really likes being part of the Bal Sabha.

She particularly enjoys the dance and theatre performances they put together. Two months ago, the Bal Sabha girls presented a short play in front of their classmates. Anjali was playing a Team Balika Member visiting a house where a young girl was about to get married. Anjali’s character had to convince the parents to stop the wedding from happening and to send their daughter back to school instead.

The issue of child marriage is quite problematic in the region, and Anjali had to use many arguments to explain why girls should get educated instead of being married off so early. The story had a great impact on the audience and many students had something to recount at the end of the performance.

Since Educate Girls started its program six years ago, almost 11,000 girls have been trained as Bal Sabha leaders in the districts where Educate Girls works. These young girls grow up educated and confident, with knowledge and skills that will help them throughout their lives.

Since the play was performed, Anjali talked to one of Educate Girls’ volunteers. She mentioned her cousin’s marriage and the fact that Rani didn’t go to school any more. Our volunteer has been to Rani’s house several times to talk to her parents. After much persuasion, they have finally agreed to send their daughter back to school until the time comes where she will leave their home. Now Rani and Anjali walk to school together, play and do homework in the evening.

Twitter: #educategirls #impact #genderequality

EDUCATE GIRLS SHOWED THE RIGHT PATH: NAVLI’S STORY

Navli Kumari, an incredible Team Balika from Sirohi district, Rajasthan.
Navli Kumari, an incredible Team Balika from Sirohi district, Rajasthan.

I am Navli Kumari from Abu Road Block in Sirohi district, Rajasthan. I was fortunate to have been able to live with my father in Abu Road, a relatively developed area that facilitated my studies. Sadly, after my father passed away, I had to move back to my native village which is an Adivasi area where girls do not have any access to education. In fact, there wasn’t a single school there. I was the only girl in the village who had studied till the 12th grade. It was very disheartening for me to see that most girls were deprived of even primary education. Seeing them, I often wondered how I could use my education for the betterment of my community but saw no existing avenue. I desperately wanted to see a school building in my village.

One day, an Educate Girls Field Coordinator came looking for me. He mentioned that he was in search of an educated person in my village who could volunteer to bring back girls to school and handhold them through their learning process. He told me that I would fit the role perfectly and then gave me deeper insight into the organization and its interventions – this was my first formal introduction to Educate Girls.

I was highly motivated by Educate Girls’ methodology, but I realized that this was a challenging proposition. Educate Girls’ model is based on partnership with the government and revolves around a core element – Team Balika or community youth leaders who volunteer with the organization. I chose to become a Team Balika because I genuinely wanted to make a difference in my village. When I first went door-to-door trying to convince parents to send their daughters to school, many doors were slammed in my face and many abuses were hurled at me. But I knew I had to be patient and persistent. Gradually parents allowed their daughters to step out in uniform.

I have been a Team Balika for 4 years now and take pride in saying that with help from Educate Girls I have enrolled 46 girls in school and stopped 2 child marriages. After many years of unsuccessful attempts, a school has finally been set-up in my village. The support and creative training offered by Educate Girls has achieved dual purpose in my life. Not only has there been an increase in the confidence & learning levels of the girls who are being enrolled, I too have been empowered. I’ve been trained in essential skills and taught a solution-finding and constructive approach to dealing with every situation. From a place where achieving my dreams seemed impossible, to where I am today – contesting as a candidate in the local elections and being viewed as a leader with potential –Educate Girls has been the wind in my sails.

Twitter: #educategirls #teambalika #impact

FIRST PAYMENT-BY-RESULTS PROGRAM IN SOCIAL SECTOR LAUNCHED WITH EDUCATE GIRLS

Educate Girls is to pilot the first Payment-by-Results program, a financial innovation in the social sector.

Mumbai, July 29th 2013: Educate Girls, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to reform government schools for girls’ education in India, is launching a ground-breaking Payment-by-results (PbR) initiative to the Indian social sector for the first time in the country. PbR will be launched as a pilot program in the Sirohi district, Rajasthan in July 2013.

PbR is an innovation that will pave the way for more strategic philanthropy and greater accountability in the social sector. The premise of PbR is that full or partial funding is tied to achieving pre-determined goals. By tying investment to outcomes rather than activities, PbR provides NGOs with the flexibility to experiment and improve their programs, while funders are ensured of a high social return on their investment. These last few years, some major international development agencies have adopted PbR programs, including the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Educate Girls pilot PbR program will be run in approximately 200 schools in Sirohi district, Rajasthan from July 2013 to 2015. Schools will be divided between those that do not benefit from the Educate Girls program, those that receive Educate Girls program under traditional up-front financing scheme and those that receive Educate Girls program and PbR funding. Educate Girls will deliver all social services in this program while the donor will pay for social outcomes.

Instiglio, a Harvard-incubated consultancy that designs, structures and implements results-based financing models, is creating the framework for the project. They will provide technical advice to Educate Girls for the duration of the pilot. An independent auditor will monitor and verify the impact of the program.

The PbR initiative has the potential to rapidly scale up the impact of our program and to help Educate Girls reach over 30,000 schools in some of India’s most acute gender gap areas within a short period of time. This scale can be achieved by integrating the PbR program into a social franchising model that focuses on standardized, measured and monitored impact milestones. “The successful implementation of a pilot program in Sirohi, Rajasthan has the potential to change service delivery and implementation standards across the social sector in India.” says Safeena Husain, Executive Director, Educate Girls. “We believe that PbR will bring accountability to the social sector and has the potential to deeply reform education of the girl child in India,” she added.

India has the largest illiterate population in the world. According to the census 2011, a quarter of the population still cannot read or write. Women and girls, especially in rural areas, are particularly affected.

Rajasthan has 9 of the 26 worst gender gap districts in India for girls’ education. Only 1 out of 2 women can read or write, for every 100 girls, only 1 reaches class 12. With a gender gap of close to 30%, women are lagging behind their male counterparts in all spheres of life. Poverty is one cause, but more importantly cultural and social barriers, as well as the poor quality of public education, keep many parents from sending their girls to school.

“Payment by result initiatives hold tremendous promise for improving financing for NGOs in India. While these initiatives have been implemented in a limited number of locations to date, the recent economic downturn, combined with the increased attention on measuring the outcomes of large social programs, make these initiatives increasingly attractive for governments as well as international donors. We are excited to be working on some of the latest payment by results initiatives in India today.” says Michael Belinsky of Instiglio.

Educate Girls will use this current pilot program to test how to structure, implement and monitor similar programs with partners. Raman Uberoi, COO of CRISIL, said: “As an innovation-driven company that aims to “do good with what it is good at”, CRISIL is delighted to be associated with India’s first PbR initiative. “We believe that new social spending models such as PbR or Social Impact Bonds can help design and deploy social interventions in a more efficient manner for all stakeholders — the government, private investors, non-profits and beneficiaries.”

By 2016, Educate Girls plans to create the necessary systems to operate payment-by-results programs with potential partners to scale first within India and then abroad.

CRISIL Foundation and WomenChangeMakers (WCM) are leveraging their expertise and networks to help raise awareness about PbR in India by sponsoring a series of events across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore on 23rd July, 29th July and 31st July respectively.

Yann Borgstedt, Founder and President of the Womanity Foundation, a Geneva-based philanthropy organization said, “We are very impressed with what Educate Girls, our first fellowship in India, has achieved in just a few years. WCM will support Safeena and her team by bringing top quality corporate partners to help Educate Girls support more girls in more parts of India.”

About

CRISIL Foundation

The CRISIL Foundation is CRISIL’s corporate social responsibility arm. Established in 2013 in line with the organization’s stated goal of making markets function better, the Foundation enables CRISIL to ‘do good with what it is good at’. Its two primary aims are to increase financial awareness and conserve the environment. Towards the first cause, the Foundation runs a series of financial literacy workshops to build awareness about financial services, and promote inclusive banking in financially underserved communities.

Twitter: #educategirls @CRISILFoundtion @InstiglioInc #PbR

BOARD MEMBER HANSAL MEHTA TELLS US ABOUT HIS LATEST JOURNEY TO RAJASTHAN

On the way to Jalore - one of Rajasthan's most gender biased districts.
On the way to Jalore – one of Rajasthan’s most gender biased districts.

The prospect of oppressive heat was daunting. The lengthy journey into the interiors of Rajasthan was an overwhelming prospect. Extreme dry heat, temperatures in excess of 45 degrees Celsius and difficult terrain awaited us.

I am not a social scientist. I am not an educationist. I am not an educator. I am not directly connected to the social sector. I am an adequate manager. I am a self-appointed social entrepreneur. Above all I am a filmmaker. I am a filmmaker with a self-imposed responsibility. A responsibility to mirror society. A responsibility to portray life and its contradictions through films. A responsibility to engage meaningfully with audiences.

Honestly, I am not even a filmmaker with these self-imposed responsibilities. I am a citizen of a democracy that promises among other things the right to education for every citizen. A right that is essential. A right that must be exercised. But a right that is still not understood. A right that is still far from being a reality. A right that is still just a powerful piece of legislation.

Safeena and her ever-smiling 'Team Balika' members.
Safeena and her ever-smiling ‘Team Balika’ members.

The year was 2007. I was invited to join the board of Educate Girls, a non-profit founded by my wife Safeena Husain. Safeena is a remarkable woman. She is an alumnus of the London School of Economics with the potential to draw big bucks in any corporate job or to create huge profits out of any small enterprise. Early in her life she made a choice to use her remarkable skills to make the world a better place. For her this is no bombastic dream or idealistic drivel. She perseveres tirelessly. She works endlessly. She is driven by change. Most importantly she is strategic in her approach to the world’s myriad problems and their solutions. Her vision is humanitarian while her approach is entrepreneurial. Let me stop here for a moment, I promised myself that this piece would not be a glowing tribute to my lovely partner. This piece is actually about my experience with her work. This piece is my experience as a witness to strategic social change. This piece is an account of my learning from the work done by her amazing organization (mine too) and its absolutely amazing cadre.

Girls’ education is one of the most crucial elements in positively transforming a developing country like India. When girls are educated, they become empowered. When girls are educated, society becomes more progressive. When girls are educated infant mortality, child marriage, repression, oppression and gender bias are eliminated. When girls are educated, they are exposed to opportunity – an opportunity to rise above poverty, an opportunity to serve their families better, an opportunity to raise their voice, an opportunity to exercise their equality. When girls are educated, we are more likely to live in a better world. A world free from ignorance. A world free from discrimination. A world free from exploitation.

While the benefits of girls’ education are well understood and articulated, its access to some of the most populous parts of India is a huge challenge. The task is humongous and only massive scale achieved strategically in a short while can help tackle this. The Indian government is well intentioned in its commitment to the task. Exhaustive policies are in place. Major budget allocations are available. Extensive legislation is in existence. However, these intentions like many other governmental initiatives don’t necessarily translate into grassroots action. A vast bureaucracy, a divided political system, massive infrastructural gaps, complex societal structures, repressive familial traditions, an almost uncontrollable population and geographical vastness are only some of the limiting factors.

The Educate Girls solution is elegant, potent, scalable and practical. According to EG the key to solving global issues is the complete involvement of local communities. Local communities must own their problems. Local communities must solve their problems. Local communities are the key to transformation. Local communities are the change. EG works within existing government structures using the community as both the catalyst and the vehicle for societal, attitudinal and systemic change. This is EG’s strategy for change. This is EG’s theory of transformation.

From 500 government schools in 2007 to nearly 5,700 schools in 2013 EG is poised to reach over 13,000 schools in 2014. All these schools are owned by the government and funded by them. Based on EG’s theory of change these schools are jointly owned by the communities they are intended for. Their accessibility to over a million girls in the highly gender-biased state of Rajasthan is as much the responsibility of local communities as it is of the government. Their effectiveness is in the hands of local communities.

EG uses extensive data collection, surveys and analysis to approach this task in a systematic, structured and strategic manner. EG creates local community-driven structures that mirror existing government structures (such as school management committees) to ensure girls enrollment, retention and to run the schools effectively. It partners with other NGOs to ensure effective learning outcomes are achieved by schools for their students (EG’s focus is on girls). EG recruits, trains and manages a dedicated cadre of volunteers called ‘Team Balika’ to effectively advocate its strategic goals to the remotest areas under its program coverage.

The Educate Girls’ cadre is committed to positive social change through girls’ education.

On my visit to Rajasthan I was able to experience both the enormity of the task at hand and the selfless commitment that has made EG such an important vehicle for girls education in India. The entire EG cadre including its managers, officers and volunteers were unfazed by the weather. They were unhindered by limited infrastructure. Their broad smiles gave me hope. Their enthusiasm gave me courage. Their tenacity gave me strength. Their belief gave me optimism. They were united in their resolve to ensure a better future for their girls. They were driven by their mission to eradicate the gender bias – one girl at a time. Because of EG’s strategic approach their ultimate goal did not seem like an idealistic pipe dream. I left Rajasthan knowing fully well that our country with its empowered communities could look at the future with renewed hope.

I left Rajasthan with an achievable dream. I left Rajasthan with pride. I was after all a part of this incredible revolution. I am now a Team Balika – committed to EG’s vision, mission and strategy with a willingness to devote my limited capability to making the world a better place.

About the Author: Hansal Mehta is an award winning film maker and board member of Educate Girls. After a brief stint as a computer engineer, he followed his passion for telling stories using cinema. He has been a part of the prolific Mumbai Film Industry for the past 17 years. Besides creating one of India’s biggest food brands through his television show ‘Khana Khazana’, Hansal has directed acclaimed feature films including Jayate, Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar, Chhal, Dus Kahanaiyaan and Shahid. A multi-faceted individual, Hansal is also the CEO of The India Study Abroad Center (ISAC), a vibrant social enterprise that connects interns from around the world to India’s grassroots.

Twitter: #educategirls @mehtahansal #teambalika #impact