Solution Overview

Our Solution

Navgurukul

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One-line solution summary:

Empowering girls from underserved communities to become programmers & get access to tech jobs, break away from gender & economic barriers

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Pitch your solution.

Access to high-quality higher education that can open doors to aspirational jobs remains a faraway dream, especially for girls from rural India, scheduled castes & tribes, and other minorities.

Navgurukul’s flagship, one-year residential program is designed to solve this problem by addressing the economic, social, and pedagogical challenges faced by these learners. 

Key Ingredients:  

  1. A peer learning structure that allows students to enroll on a rolling basis and learn at their own pace. 

  2. A digital learning platform that is designed specifically for the needs of our audience. It facilitates hands-on learning in a self-paced manner. 

  3. Zero cost model for learners, to be paid forward only once they have jobs and financial security. 

Navgurukul helps girls break away from gender and financial barriers. These girls each become a beacon of hope in their communities and support many others to break out of their many shackles.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Increase and leverage the participation of underserved communities in India and Indonesia — especially women, low-income, and remote groups — in the creation, development, and deployment of new technologies, jobs, and industries
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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Gurugram, Haryana, India
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Is your solution working in India and/or Indonesia?

My solution is being deployed or has plans to deploy in India
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What specific problem are you solving in India and/or Indonesia?

The main problem that we are looking to solve is that women, especially those from marginalized communities have no pathways to high-paying tech jobs that are not under the threat of automation but rather will thrive in 4IR. A few important facts regarding the problem:

  1. Access to engineering education has increased manifold in India since 2005. However, even with the increased numbers, women’s participation in engineering remains abysmal. In 2015-16 out of all students enrolled in engineering, only 26.1% were female. 

  2. On top of that, only 11% of these students were from scheduled castes and only 5% from scheduled tribes. 

A variety of social and economic factors are at play in keeping the numbers for both of the above metrics low. 

3. If somehow a woman from a scheduled tribe makes it to an engineering college, the chances of her learning industry-relevant skills and getting a tech job are still slim. In 2019, 93 - 80% of engineering graduates from India were found to be unemployable. This problem exists because of a lack of autonomy of institutions, nonupdated curriculums, lack of trained, industry-experienced faculty, etc. 

14% of India’s total population of 1.4 billion is women between the ages of 16 - 30. 

Our solution addresses all of these factors by creating a program that: 

Allows high school dropouts, is zero cost, instills industry-relevant high demand skills, and places these girls in aspirational high growth jobs.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

Anu comes from a small town in UP. Her father passed away when she was 5 and her mother was all of 22. They have sustained a small farm income since. She dropped out of school when she was 15 as it was expensive, she was needed on the farm and no further pathways made sense anyway. Anu comes from a Mahadalit community, employment options in her village are limited for her. Even within her community, her family is marginalized as her mother is considered unlucky and the reason for her father’s death. 

Bano comes from a slum community in the outskirts of Pune. Her father is an alcoholic and mom has largely taken care of Bano and her sister through the years despite domestic abuse. She has finished 12th but doesn’t have the money to pursue college further. 

Kavita grew up in an organization that works for the welfare of kids who are born with HIV. Savita is queer and is unable to accept patriarchy in her family. Kusum was at the receiving end of sexual abuse by her cousin at her home when she was 16. 

Navgurukul is created to support these girls to break out of gender and economic shackles. We work closely with them through our residential programs to understand their needs and constantly shape our curriculum, team, and processes to better serve them. We hire our alumni extensively to ensure the team truly understands the challenges faced by our learners and drives deep transformation. 

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How does the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge?

As we write this application, we are fully convinced that the who and what of our work fully aligns with that of this challenge.

Who: It is one of Navgurukul's core principles to serve the most underserved. Our target population is those who get the shortest end of the bargain in more ways than one - girls from rural India, from scheduled castes and tribes or other religious minorities, from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, those who are victims of trafficking, kids of sex workers, or are from conflict-ridden zones, etc.

When Navgurukul started, it served both boys and girls from rural and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. However, we made a conscious shift to only focus on girls and gender empowerment as a core part of our culture and goals. Today there are 680 girls on 4  Navgurukul campuses as compared to only 28 in March 2020. 

What: Another core principle is to focus on deep transformation and create access to the most aspirational jobs. Thus, while others focus on vocational training and equipping such girls with skills such as tailoring etc that could be affected by automation anyway, we equip girls to get jobs in tech companies and set them up to learn on their own throughout their careers to keep upskilling themselves and gain access to the increasingly better opportunities in the digital economy.

Also doing inner work to break away from gender shackles is a big part of our mindset and soft skills curriculum. 

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In which Indian States and/or Union Territories is your solution operating?

  • Karnataka
  • Maharashtra
  • Tripura
  • Uttarakhand (Uttaranchal)
  • Delhi
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Scale
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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Nidhi Anarkat is the lead for this program. Nidhi has 10+ years of experience in edtech, 8, in future of work. She is a Harvard alumna and comes with entrepreneurial experience as well as experience working in various edtech initiatives both in India and in the US.

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More About Your Solution

If you have additional video content that explains your solution, upload it here (e.g., demo video, promotional video):

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
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What makes your solution innovative?

Learning mechanism innovation: How we facilitate learning is truly innovative. We have figured out a way to use learning through a digital platform at one’s own pace without it being isolated from peers and doing this while keeping costs extremely low. 

How do we do this: Students stay on a residential campus and do a majority of their learning from a digital platform, designed in-house. 

The residential campus creates a space for them to focus on learning, away from family dynamics that may have various distractions like the need to earn, take care of siblings, domestic violence and abuse, etc. 

The digital platform allows them to learn at their own pace, which allows them to go as fast as they want or as slow as they need to. 

There is a tree of student mentors and coaches designed to monitor the students’ progress in various aspects of the curriculum such as coding as well as communication skills and help them wherever they get stuck. These mentors and coaches are students just like themselves, just a few months ahead in their journey. 

The coaches and mentors are selected and trained by the team of academic associates which are mostly alumni or Code India Fellows (Teach for all like fellowship that we have just launched to support learning in our own centers and export our learning philosophy to partner institutions. We will talk more about that at someplace else in the application).

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Technology plays a critical role in the success of our programs in a few ways:

  1. Meraki: our open-source eLearning platform, designed to serve the specific needs of our learners. Meraki allows Navgurukul students to learn the whole curriculum in a self-paced manner allowing for Navgurukul to operate without significant teacher costs, reduces dependency on the availability of talent, and most importantly actually improves learning as students are never passively listening but rather always actively doing. 

  2. Also, Meraki's Bridge Vernacular content enables students to start learning in a vernacular language (Hindi right now, but we plan to add more) and gradually shift to English. This enables students to quickly adapt to the curriculum irrespective of language barriers while ensuring that ultimately students are learning most of the curriculum in English, enabling further job readiness.

  3. Other than Navgurukul residential program students, Meraki is also being used by thousands of non-residential students too, to learn on their own, in their own homes (more on this program, later). Learn code without laptops feature of Meraki, allows students to just connect a keyboard with a phone, and learning coding at a cost as low as $4.

  4.  Student learning journey dashboard: that tracks all details of a student's learning journey, such as when they arrived on campus, when they finished curriculum milestones and when they got internships and jobs. This dashboard automates a lot of our processes and helps us improve the timeliness and quality of our interventions with students. 

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Please select all the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Audiovisual Media
  • Behavioral Technology
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • LGBTQ+
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • India
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • India
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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

In March 2020, we had 2 residential campuses and a total of 88 students studying on those campuses. In the last 1.5 years, in the midst of a pandemic, we have grown from that to currently having 5 residential campuses with 740 students, running at full capacity.  During the last 1.5 years we have added 2 more programs in addition to residential campuses: 

  1. Meraki for remote learners - to serve those learners who we want to learn but we can’t accommodate on our campuses yet

  2. Code India Fellowship: To attract high-quality talent, train them in our andragogy and through them equip other partner institutions and government institutes to run similar programs such as ours

Goals for the next year: 

  • 4 courses (Add courses other than Software Engineering, such as Graphic Design, Data Science, etc)

  • 10 Residential campuses

  • 60 Code India Fellows

  • 2000 Annual Residential Capacity, with 100% job placement

  • 1 Million Remote Meraki Users

Goals for the next 5 years: 

  • 7 courses

  • 18 Residential Campuses

  • 300 Code India Fellows

  • 5000 Annual Residential Capacity, with 100% job placement

  • 10M Remote Meraki Users

Strategies to meet these goals:

1. Scale residential in partnership with governments - where governments pick up functions such as outreach, campus security, etc, making them true partners rather than just funders. Our campuses in Tripura and Delhi are fashioned like this. 

2. Scale through Meraki distance learners - Signed a partnership with the Haryana government to teach 5000 school students through this.

3. Scale through Code India Fellowship

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

We are primarily focused on life outcomes rather than just learning outcomes. Chief indicators that we keep the focus on: 

  1. Jobs Placement - 100% of our students who have finished 1 year or more with us have been placed in jobs. We are committed to maintaining this as we scale. 

  2. Minimum salary benchmark - We want to ensure that each of our girls are in jobs that pay a minimum of INR 20k per month (USD 270) and provide a nurturing environment for them to keep growing. 

  3. Pay it forward: We have received USD 40000+ in donations from 100 out of 210 of our alumni who are in jobs. 

Other indicators of interest are:

Average time to jobs, dropout numbers, a shift in gender equality perspectives, the average increase in salary over the years, average cost per learner, etc. 

With Meraki remote learners and Code India fellowship (CIF) now rolled out, we will also be tracking the number of remote learners who reach learning outcomes and the number of learners impacted through partner organizations through CIF. 

So far 65000+ learners have been touched through Meraki online platform, 800+ have joined our residential campuses and 210 have been placed in jobs. 

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More About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

We are a 58 people strong team currently across our residential program teams, Meraki, and Code India Fellowship team, and Fellows.

Full time - 32
Consultants - 4
Data managers - 3
Community managers - 4
Apprentices - 8
CII/CIF - 3
Interns - 4
Total - 58


We also have a wider engaged volunteer community.

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How long have you been working on your solution?

5 years and 3 months

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Current Alumni in team:  53% of total team
Percentage of women in our team: 63%  
Percentage of salary drawn by women:  Greater than 70%

Ex founders, IIT Delhi and Harvard alumna in the core team with a high ability to attract talent and resources


Our dream is to nurture the alumni on our team to one day be the CEO of the org and we are actively working towards the same.



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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

Partnerships are core to our strategy and theory of change. Important partners that are core to our work:

  1. Funding/ CSR Partners - Microsoft, Accenture, KPMG, Salesforce, Amazon, Sinch 

  2. Admission Partners - 60+ NGOs like Educate Girls, Pratham, Magic Bus, Nudge Foundation etc. and 9 State Government partners like Maharashtra, Odisha, Meghalaya, etc to reach out to our beneficiaries. 

  3. Curriculum Partners- Tech4Good, Girls UP, Devsnest, NeoG Camp, Rang Karwan, Inlingua, Let's Teach English, Cubelelo, Freedom English Academy, etc

  4. Placement Partners - 60+ start-ups and corporates like Mindtree, Thoughtworks, WhiteHat Jr etc

  5. Expansion partners - New campuses with Delhi and Tripura Government

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Your Model & Funding

Who is the primary stakeholder you will be targeting to execute and scale your solution?

Individuals consumers
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Partnership & Growth Opportunities

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development, etc.)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. expanding client base)
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Solution Team

 
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