Cuttack based social impact startup ThinkZone has raised $104,000 from US-based Impact Investor Gray Matters Capital under its edLABS initiative. The company that deals in low-cost education to undeserved children in low resource communities will use the new funds for expansion across Odisha. The company plans to create about 300 jobs to women micro-entrepreneurs in the state.
Currently, ThinkZone employs 100 women who are catering to over 2,800 children in 375 villages across nine blocks of the districts of Cuttack, Kendrapara and Bhadrak. In future, the startup plans to deepen its engagement in the other backward districts besides expanding into coastal Odisha.
“The work we do at ThinkZone is unique because we are developing a tech-based pedagogy for first generation learners and empowering women entrepreneurs who come from a limited education backgrounds with facilitation skills to provide tech-driven quality education in rural India,” said Binayak Acharya, Founder, ThinkZone.
Acharya emphasized that his firm is creating a scalable model of technology and local community interventions that can be adapted to the local context. “We plan to scale our expansion through greater decentralization and partner with select public sector organizations and private MNCs to implement our early-grade learning enhancement and teacher-training programs,” he said.
Using the concept of ‘School-in-a-Box’, offline technology, proprietary teaching activities and class management tools, local women deliver early-grade education programs following the Teaching-at-the-Right-Level approach (an MIT evidence-based pedagogy) to improve learning outcomes of 10,000 children in the state by 2020, said the company.
ThinkZone will use the funding towards 4 key strategic initiatives of automating teacher training, refining curriculum, improving performance monitoring by integrating analytics with technology and forging partnerships with the objective to scale.
ThinkZone had previously raised funds from BPCL, UnLtd India, D-Prize (US Distribution Inc), INVENT(Villgro) and Startup Odisha. ThinkZone has recently partnered with Learning Equality for its Kolibiri Hardware Grants Program, which is a Google.org funded initiative. This will enable it to upskill teachers and help students learn at their own pace.