Today I would like to write about a topic and a company of extreme interest. The topic is how to improve educational quality and performance around the world using technology and innovation and the company I would like to profile is called BrightBytes. It is a San Francisco based tech start-up (like so many others) and its core business is to build tech enabled research-based decision support platforms to help education institutions improve their spending decisions to focus on practices that actually improve student learning outcomes. It is a EdTech company that is much more than just posting grades online. The company is building a buzz and raising money. Having been featured in Fast Company, and raising 750K from Learn Capital in early 2013 and another $15M in Series B capital from Bessemer Venture Partners in 2014. Recently it was also named one of the 20 most innovative EdTech companies globally.
This week I would like to profile a non-profit model that deserves notice not only because it was started by a former classmate and friend of mine but also because it is an inspiring new model for development aid that may well be a new benchmark by which all poverty-alleviation interventions and philanthropy will be measured. GiveDirectly a recent winner of a Google Global Impact Award is a non-profit devoted to providing unconditional cash transfers (i.e. cash with no strings attached) directly to the impoverished in Kenya. You may be asking what is the difference between this and just giving money away? Not much, except that with technology from M-Pesa and rigorous randomized impact evaluations they can guarantee that money is being received by intended beneficiaries and is having an impact on those who need it most. It is a simple tech-enabled and data-driven model that has caught the world’s attention and has recently been featured by the likes of Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Magazine and NPR. Read on to find out more.