March 7, 2023, Bengaluru: Varthana was awarded USD 250,000 by UBS Optimus Foundation for its student financing solutions aimed at the lower and lower-middle income students in India, to gain better access to tertiary education. UBS Optimus Foundation awarded the Tertiary Education Financing Prize in partnership with Convergence to four winners globally, two of which are based in India, for a total of USD 1 million.
The winners were asked to identify successful existing solutions that provide inclusive, fair, and affordable financing to students in tertiary education in low and lower-middle-income countries as access to cost-effective tertiary education remains out of reach for most people from these countries
They were selected after participating in a thorough and highly competitive process, including a virtual pitch day which had applicants participating from developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The shortlisted applicants presented their solutions to a panel of expert judges and the four winners were then selected by Convergence and UBS Optimus Foundation based on the feedback of the judges. The financing solutions were evaluated based on their scalability and ability to contribute towards greatly increasing funding for tertiary education, so that more young people in emerging markets have access to high-quality education in areas that will have good employment opportunities in the future.
“We are delighted to award the Tertiary Education Prize recognizing the best solutions available today that enable students to access higher education through inclusive, fair, and affordable financing. Education is key to transforming employment opportunities and life chances and we want to develop investible, innovative, and scalable financing solutions that help more young people on this journey,” said Maya Ziswiler, CEO of UBS Optimus Foundation, on congratulating the winners.
On being awarded the prize, Steve Hardgrave, Co-Founder and CEO, Varthana, said:“I am delighted that Varthana’s solution was selected as one of the best student financing solutions from those offered by institutions across the world. Varthana, since its inception, has worked tirelessly towards making education accessible to the lower and lower-middle income segments by providing easy access to credit. This affirmation by UBS Optimus and Convergence towards our mission of providing access to quality education is heartening.”
Varthana, through its student financing solution, has disbursed over 5,000 loans to students, many of whom do not have a credit history and have limited access to financing. This is made possible through partnerships with domestic tertiary institutions whose students frequently seek financial assistance once they are admitted to colleges, universities or vocational training institutions or any other post secondary educational programs. With the help of the prize money, Varthana will work towards scaling its student financing solution and making it more accessible to the underserved students in India.