One-line solution summary:
Empowering women and girls with life-changing free digital learning solutions, even for those in offline and remote communities.
Pitch your solution.
When you provide a young girl with access to quality learning, they will become empowered leaders in their community. However, currently, 740 million girls worldwide (a number severely impacted by COVID-19) are out of school, and of that number, approximately 60% are not able to access the abundance of digital learning resources that are available online due to unreliable Internet connectivity.
Mighty Girls builds on Rumie’s work to support communities and organizations specifically focused on girls’ education, to create digital learning libraries that can be accessed on any mobile device at any time, even offline. Rumie meets the learner where they are, provides them with resources to build the skills needed to improve their livelihoods and reach their full potential.
When this solution is scaled to the global level that we are working towards, it will affect these girls and women individually, their families, their communities, and ultimately the world.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
Rumie’s Mighty Girls project began in Afghanistan, a place where there are the greatest unmet basic needs of individuals. Even prior to COVID-19, approximately 3 million girls were out of school due to a severe lack of physical schools, qualified teachers, sanitation facilities within active schools, and harmful gender norms. Since the pandemic, the number of out of school girls has skyrocketed and the entire school system in the country has been shut down.
While we work to scale Mighty Girls in Afghanistan, we're also looking to expand to other areas who are in desperate need of the Rumie Solution - starting with Pakistan and then Nigeria. In Pakistan, prior to COVID-19, a staggering 20 million girls were out of school and that number has significantly increased in recent months as schools shut down. In Nigeria, 8 million girls were out of school pre-COVID-19 and the country is also dealing with a militant group who does not believe that girls should be educated.
An additional factor that adds to the struggle of these out of school girls, is many of them do not have reliable Internet access, meaning that the alternative of remote digital learning is not an easy option.
What is your solution?
Rumie is an award-winning technology non-profit that creates innovative technology solutions to facilitate free online learning content creation and digital distribution. The content is delivered to learners around the world on low-cost devices such as recycled smartphones or their own mobile devices and works even when learners have little or no Internet connectivity.
We meet learners where they are, providing them with learning materials in a format that keeps their digital environment, interests & needs in mind. The Rumie LearnCloud is our online repository of ready-to-use learning content available to anyone, anywhere at no cost.
Our tool, Rumie-Build, enables rapid, collaborative authoring of digital bite-size micro-learning modules by partner organizations or volunteers. The format of these 6-8 minute interactive modules is 20% more effective than traditional learning. Program partners create digital libraries with the content they create or curate and deliver it to their learners, even to those with limited or no Internet connectivity, via the Rumie App. Learners are able to use hardware of any kind (mobile phones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers), to access the Rumie App and their learning content, even in completely offline environments.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
The target population for this project, are girls and women that live in regions of the world where access to quality learning is not readily available. We work in partnership with organizations and community partners to learn the needs of their specific community of learners and to receive feedback on the Rumie platform to continuously improve the user experience.
The content that is created by our content partners and subject-area experts is directly matched with the needs expressed by these communities. It is housed on our online repository that is accessible by anyone and gives every individual learner the opportunity to choose the learning content that is most relevant to them. Program partners or learners create their own digital libraries which can be downloaded onto their personal devices and used offline.
The Rumie Solution addresses the needs of girls and young women who are out of school or do not have access to quality learning resources in order to build and develop the skills needed to succeed. This solution allows them to choose the content that is relevant to them, their needs, and their interests. They can do this on their own time, wherever they are, and at no cost.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Reduce the barriers that prevent girls and young women—especially those living in conflict and emergency situations—from reaching key learning milestones
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
Mighty Girls is a project that Rumie has had significant success with in Afghanistan, increasing access to learning for women and girls, and we now want to grow this project in Afghanistan and expand around the world.
Mighty Girls relates to all dimensions. We’re reducing barriers by providing access to learning resources on any device, regardless of Internet. The fact that our learning content is not only based on traditional K-12 learning but also skill-building and life-long learning means that an increased number of girls and young women can participate in formal and informal learning, strengthening their competencies for employment.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Toronto, ON, Canada
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
Tariq Fancy - CEO
If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new application of an existing technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
In 2015, we built the Rumie LearnCloud platform, allowing volunteers to crowdsource the best online digital resources the Internet has to offer and also enabling our program partners to build customized libraries best suited to meet their learners’ unique needs.
Today, however, we know that it's no longer enough to passively deliver content as other learning platforms such as the Khan Academy continue to do. Rather we want to ensure we’re actively engaging learners in achieving specific, measurable learning outcomes. We have recently integrated the concept of ‘byte-size’ learning into our platform, meaning learners can still choose the content they are interested in but now they achieve a specific learning objective in a short 6-8min learning experience. In our current fast-paced world, time and attention span are barriers to learning, and our innovative content format addresses these barriers at a much higher level than other learning platforms and solutions.
These byte-size learning modules are being created by experts in the workforce who have first-hand knowledge of the skills needed to thrive in the current and future economy. We’ve combined the principles of pedagogy we've learned from academics into our rapid authoring tool (Rumie-Build) and enabled skilled volunteers with hands-on, practical skills and knowledge to create effective learning.
Unlike other learning platforms, Rumie does not focus solely on traditional educational subjects. Rather we offer learning opportunities for job and life skills and a method - via the Rumie App - to access that learning content from anywhere, at any time.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Where technology is considered, many for-profit and non-profit organizations default to distributing low-cost, re-used or outdated tech to underserved communities, to satisfy a CSR initiative. This doesn’t keep the unique needs of the users in mind and the many benefits that can be experienced with technology that we take for granted. Our goal is to turn this thinking on its’ head.
Rumie’s new platforms (Rumie-Build & Rumie-Learn) bring the latest in UX, design, software & artificial intelligence to the world’s most vulnerable, offering them a platform that works for (not against) them, that they are in control of, and gets smarter the more they use it.
Rumie-Build is our microlearning authoring platform that allows volunteers to work individually or in teams to create mini-courses on 21st-century skills. Filled with built-in guidance and prompts to support authors in creating quality content, real-time collaboration capabilities, and multi-media integration, Rumie-Build is the tool that facilitates a digital skills-based volunteer opportunity that feels effortless and fun, often helping our volunteers develop their own knowledge in the process.
Rumie-Learn is the Netflix of Learning. It’s our mobile-first, data-driven library of localized microlearning content on topics that meet our learner’s needs. There are no barriers to access (i.e. no sign-in needed but can recognize returning devices, is accessible, and supports multiple languages). In addition to this, there are built-in accessibility features (screen reader, etc). The platform is cohesive, clean, and interactive (leveraging principles of gamification), collecting learner feedback every step of the way.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Rumie’s platforms leverage artificial intelligence & machine learning to help us create personalized learner experiences, reach and include more learners (through the use of screen readers, conversational AI, etc.) and building an automated self-serve learning model.
This type of technology is commonly used in the following ways:
Providing a personalized experience for the user which is seen in streaming services such as Netflix (suggesting what to watch based on your past views)
Improving access for those with disabilities through voice command platforms (Google Home, Siri, Alexa, etc.)
Automation such as self-driving and self-parking cars
These are the key features we are currently developing and improving in the Rumie platforms.
This is a link to a current product demo, however, it does not include all of our newest features to date: https://www.loom.com/share/5f2710658a104f189e0e589cd551a191
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
In order to achieve the long-term impact of reducing barriers to learning, especially for women and girls, we plan to follow the example we have set for ourselves while establishing and growing the Mighty Girls project in Afghanistan.
We will expand Mighty Girls into different regions, starting with Pakistan and Nigeria, by performing the following activities: continuing to develop improved product UI and creating learning content in different languages appropriate for different contexts; forming relationships and partnerships with local organizations running learning programs with a specific focus on girls education (or organizations attempting to implement a new digital, remote learning program to reach out of school girls due to COVID-19); and forming relationships and partnerships with telecom companies who have a wide reach and a large user base.
These activities will lead to outputs including a more accessible platform for girls and women who might have a low digital literacy level, and an increased number of girls and young women accessing a curated digital library of learning resources on their personal devices, whether through our community program partners or their telecom provider.
These outputs will result in outcomes such as viable learning alternatives to traditional education and ultimately breaking down the barriers to learning.
While piloting the Mighty Girls project in Afghanistan we began working with five organizations that run learning programs with a special focus on women and girls - LEARN Afghanistan, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Charmaghz, Nokbhagan University, and Skateistan. Results from surveys and interviews after the first year showed that 90% of beneficiaries found the content on the Rumie LearnCloud made them more confident in their English skills, 99% of beneficiaries were learning something new every single day using the Rumie platform and 99% of beneficiaries strongly agreed that after utilizing the content on the Rumie App, they felt more confident participating in class activities.
Rumie also partnered with Roshan Telecommunications throughout the Mighty Girls pilot project in Afghanistan and are poised to expand our reach to their 6.5 million subscribers throughout the country, making the Rumie App even more accessible to women.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
Overall to date, the Rumie Solution has impacted around 50,000 learners globally. Within one year, that number will increase to over 100,000 and will further increase to 10 million within five years. The Rumie Solution has the capacity to grow exponentially as the number of individuals with access to technology continues to increase and we grow our partnerships with telecom providers, such as our current partnership with Roshan in Afghanistan (which alone has 6m subscribers and plans to make this accessible to all for free, following a model of how they partnered with Wikipedia beginning in 2017).
In terms of our Mighty Girls project specifically, within the first year of implementation with our five program partners in Afghanistan, we were able to reach 1,500 girls and young women. This number is rapidly growing as we form new partnerships and also has the potential to grow exponentially as we implement our solution with Roshan.
With the expansion of Mighty Girls into Pakistan and Nigeria, we will reach an additional 10,000 girls and young women within the next year with the intention to grow those numbers into the millions within five years with partnerships with telecom companies in those regions.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
We have an ambitious goal to reach 10 million learners by 2025. The overall potential of the Rumie Solution, however, is limitless. With the spread of technology, especially smartphones, the ability to access digital learning resources is always increasing. This trend of greater access to technology has been increasingly apparent in recent months as investments are being made to connect communities to the Internet - investments that have been significantly accelerated by the need to be connected that COVID-19 revealed.
Our ambitious goals are realistic due to a few key factors. As mentioned, access to various forms of technology is increasing at a rapid pace. We also know that the appetite for learning is insatiable and with life and job skill requirements changing at an accelerating pace, the need to always be learning is growing.
We continue to develop partnerships with telecom providers that have a large user base and will allow us to quickly and easily expand our reach. Finally, we are rapidly building out the features, functionality, and content our platform delivers. With the intersection of all of these factors, we are on track to accomplishing our overall mission of access to quality learning for all, especially women and girls.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Rumie has grown aggressively in the last five years, expanding to 29 countries around the world. We have done this with the support of many key partners, however, there have also been challenges along the way. These include:
1. Content. The Rumie Solution is only as useful as the learning content we offer. This is especially critical as we deliver content to an extremely broad range of learners that are highly diverse in culture, geography, educational background, and primary language.
2. Competition for attention. Learners need to be on devices to access the Rumie App and on these devices are social media and other platforms that are nearly irresistible to the user. For learners to get the full value from the free learning we offer, they have to engage with it and this means choosing it over the other prevalent attention traps.
3. Awareness. We have found that one of the biggest inhibitors to our growth is the lack of people that know about Rumie. It is essential that we grow awareness of the Rumie Solution amongst the partners and learners who would benefit from the solution.
4. Funding. COVID-19 is causing an increased need for our services just as funding sources and corporate sponsors are contending with new financial strains of their own. With an increase in funding, we could accelerate our growth through broader marketing and partner outreach and fast-tracked feature enhancements as well as built-out content libraries.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We will work to overcome the challenges by the following:
1. Content. We proactively source volunteer subject-area experts who have relevant experience in the areas we are working, thereby sourcing content that matches learner needs. Our Learning Strategist has organized a team of volunteers and matched them with needed learning objectives. We also have our innovative model to harness company employee volunteers through our virtual volunteer workshops.
2. Competition for attention. With the support of our skilled volunteers, we are making the learning content that we offer extremely high value so that those using it and benefiting from it are not swayed by other distractions on their device. With increasing amounts of usage data, we will have Netflix-style algorithms to help tune the Byte recommendations so that the learning presented is maximally compelling.
3. Awareness. We will work to overcome this challenge by continuing to expand our network and work with program partners. We are also leveraging the self-interest of our corporate partners who want to promote the CSR work they are doing together with Rumie. We will also continue our outreach with telecom providers who can help bring awareness of Rumie to their user base.
4. Funding. We continue to work hard to be innovative with our funding sources such as our newly designed virtual employee engagement workshops - companies are still looking for ways to meaningfully engage their team virtually. We also continue to apply for Challenges such as these as well as other grant and funding opportunities.
What type of organization is your solution team?Nonprofit
How many people work on your solution team?
At Rumie we have 17 full-time team members, 1 part-time team member and 2 contractors.
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Rumie’s team is made up of 17 incredibly diverse individuals from many different backgrounds that have enabled the Rumie team to create a solution that is suitable for countries around the world.
The Mighty Girls project in Afghanistan is managed by Jamshid Hashimi. Although he is currently based in Canada, he is from Afghanistan and has a large network within the country. He is personally familiar with the context in the country and is culturally sensitive to the way things run and the issues that we are working to support. He has personal relationships with our program partners and is able to easily connect to new potential partners.
The reason Pakistan is our next place of expansion for Mighty Girls is that our Partnerships Manager, Tanya Qadir, is from Pakistan (and is currently located there due to COVID-19). She also has a large network within the country and has inside knowledge on how to work in the current environment.
On the tech side of our team, the individuals developing and building our products have a wealth of experience between them. Our CTO, Bogdan Arsenie, has over 18 years of experience building technology projects from the ground level. Our Learning Strategist, Sam Zimmer, has a Master’s degree in Education Technology and has over five years of experience working internationally as an Instructional Designer creating custom e-learning solutions for clients.
Together, this team supported by other Rumie members will be able to build and implement this project successfully.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Rumie has built an ecosystem that can scale effectively by working with “downstream” partners and “upstream” partners.
In Afghanistan, we are working with partners including Roshan Telecommunications, LEARN Afghanistan, Canadian Women for Women Afghanistan, Charmaghz, Nokhbagan University, and Skateistan. As a result of COVID-19 we have formed a coalition of additional organizations in Afghanistan who have come together to create and deliver digital resources specifically related to COVID-19 resources that support mental wellbeing, and provide new activities to keep busy at home.
Historically we have received both financial and in-kind support from corporate partners including Google, Accenture, Ernst&Young, Boston Consulting Group, and Scotiabank. Over the last few months, however, we designed a work-from-home ready employee workshop in response to COVID-19 where individuals use their skills and expertise to create useful digital learning content for those who need it most. Companies see an opportunity to burnish their CSR credentials, drive improved employee engagement that boosts morale and retention, and create effective, purpose-led marketing stories that contribute to improving their brand.
In addition, Rumie announced in February a high-profile partnership with EcoATM, the largest device recycling company in the US, to help our learners get free devices; in a pop-up shop we jointly did in Soho, New York, people donated extra and old smartphones that will now be used in programs for girls and women’s education in Afghanistan. The kick-off event on International Women’s Day received significant media attention including a feature article in Forbes and AdWeek.
What is your business model?
Rumie’s model is built to be low-cost and scalable and because of this, we offer a unique value proposition to each of our partner groups: Corporate Partners, Content Creators, Community Partners, and Distribution Partners.
With our Corporate Partners, we offer an effective employee engagement model, brand goodwill association, and a successful CSR initiative. In return, we receive financial support and volunteer content contributors.
Content Creators such as Right to Play receive free tools for converting and delivering their learning programs in a digital format and in return, we are able to have access to that content on our platform and reach their communities.
Community Partners such as LEARN Afghanistan also receive free use of our tools to create their own digital learning libraries and provide access to learning to girls and young women in their communities. We are able to expand our reach and impact more learners.
Distribution Partners such as Roshan and other telecom companies receive an avenue to expand their CSR initiatives by providing learning opportunities to their user base and as a result, we are able to impact that user base with our learning content.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Organizations (B2B)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
We continue to grow our corporate employee engagement platform which will allow corporate partners to utilize their CSR budget to actively engage the employees in a meaningful project to share their skills and expertise. The Rumie-Build platform which enables this has only just launched in Q1 2020 but is already seeing significant early traction. Since the COVID crisis has erupted, we have been approached by many companies that want to continue with skills-based volunteer work. In addition to providing a way for companies to engage their employees remotely, these workshops are designed to unlock resources for job and life-skill development that vitally need to be captured and transferred to those who lose their jobs as a result of COVID-19. We are providing a way for experts to create this content and a delivery mechanism to reach those who will have the greatest benefit.
We have also just recently hired three new Rumie team members who have formed our new partnership team. These individuals have developed a strategy around our corporate employee engagement plan as well as setting aggressive outreach targets.
We will also continue to apply for grants as well as challenges such as these, and potentially manage one fundraising campaign a year.
Why are you applying to Solve?
Our reasons for applying to Solve go well beyond the funding aspect of the Challenge. As mentioned above, some of our barriers are content, competition for attention, awareness, and funding. Solve is well-positioned to support us in all of these areas.
Throughout COVID-19, we have developed our virtual employee engagement workshop for companies to actively engage their employees in creating an impact by designing learning content based on their expertise and passion. We are looking to be connected with companies that contribute to a sophisticated and skilled workforce. This would assist us in overcoming our barrier of creating quality and useful content as well as growing the awareness of Rumie and what we do.
Aside from corporate connections, Solve can open doors for us to reach more learners through new program partners who are running learning programs and would benefit from using the Rumie Solution. The mentorship and guidance provided by Solve would also be helpful in working through our third barrier of acquiring ongoing and beneficial feedback.
The funding provided by Solve and Solve partners would support us in further enhancing our products in a timely manner, ensuring we can efficiently compete for learner attention. Additionally, we would be able to access additional avenue to increase awareness of our Solution.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
Our partnership goals are dependent on the type of partner. We would love new corporate partners to engage in our corporate engagement model. We are always looking for new companies who have a skilled team with the ability to give back and create an impact in the form of creating learning content.
We also have partnership goals related to expanding our user base. Any partners that are running a learning program or have the ability to distribute learning content would greatly increase the impact of Mighty Girls.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
MIT Solve has a large and diverse network that Rumie would love to partner with. The following companies could help us advance our solution.
Alphabet Inc, through Eric Schmidt, MIT Solve Advisor. Rumie has been supported by Google in the past and we are working to advance this partnership.
Emerson Collective, through Laurene Powell Jobs, MIT Solve Advisor. Their mission of finding different tools to break down barriers would be a perfect match with Rumie.
The following Solve Member companies would also assist us in advancing our solution by potentially partnering with us in our corporate engagement model or other bespoke partnerships:
Johnson and Johnson
Bill and Melinda Gates
Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The Experian Prize to advance your solution?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused and continues to cause significant job loss as the result of lost revenue, business closures, and the ongoing need for the entire population to physically distance. Individuals who ended up unemployed are left in a challenging position as they try to navigate the current job market.
By partnering with various types of organizations we are ensuring that the learning resources on Rumie-Learn are readily available in places where individuals need them most. For example, by including Rumie-Learn on popular job boards, the resources to gain the necessary skills will be right at their fingertips as they look through the qualifications needed for various job opportunities. By partnering with microcredit organizations we will provide individuals who have started their own businesses with the resources to learn how to successfully grow their business and pay back their loans.
The ultimate outcome of providing individuals with these digital learning resources is preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow by improving their employable skills and leading them to be successful in the "new normal" created by COVID-19.