When Eela Dubey founded EduFund with partner Arindam Sengupta, she had one goal – helping the families of Indian students save for their child’s college education.
Now, with EduFund’s suite of technologically-powered assistance with finances, its impact is beginning to reveal itself to the world.
“As of today, 700 million Indians consume smartphone or internet services out of our entire population, and that’s estimated to grow to 1.3 billion by 2030,” Dubey says.
“If you look at that level of internet penetration, I think we’re the second largest internet consuming country in the world. I think it’s just a question in terms of getting on people’s screens – parents say that this product makes a lot of sense.”
EduFund is a company born out of Covid, having been built during 2020 and then subsequently launching in March 2021. Since then, the team has developed four facets of the platform – a college cost calculator, a tool to help with early investments to grow finances, an education loan finder and a suite of education counsellors to assist through the process.
“The beauty of the product is that we let you start with a minimum investment of 100 rupees, which is a dollar less than a dollar and a half a month. It’s all about the parent and the child.
“We are not going to tell you you have to send your kid here necessarily or that your child has to aspire to do X, Y, Z things – we tell you the costs, but we don’t decide those factors for you. It’s a very personal decision and we respect that,” she explains.
“The beauty of the product is that we let you start with a minimum investment of 100 rupees”
EduFund currently has 15,000 customers that are “saving month-on-month” – showing, for Dubey, that the platform is already having a viral impact after only 18 months of being live – sustained through writing blogs, a consistent social media presence and asking the question: “why should you do it?”
“I hope to be able to sustain that momentum. I think at the end of the day, we’re a very mission oriented company. So for us, it’s just for the benefit of parents to be able to do something like this.
“That’s why we want to have as much of a footprint as we can with a product like this, because it’s really, truly enabling students at the end of the day, right towards that financial independence of getting an education,” she comments.
As a graduate of NYU, Dubey experienced firsthand the pressures of going to such an expensive college.
“I financed it through a bunch of different means. I got a scholarship to the university, and my parents helped me out. I took loans. So I know how hard those are to repay.”
Dubey says she really values each dollar that went into funding her education. In addition to her time at NYU, she also worked with a UK-based NGO that worked alongside the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“There was all this talk on poverty alleviation. And for me, when I went to India and I had this opportunity to kind of volunteer and work with students in this education sector, I realised that actually education is one thing in a country like India that truly provides socioeconomic mobility between classes.
“That experience stayed with me and then I ended up working in finance and then ultimately everything just came together and clicked,” she recalled.
Dubey tells The PIE that everything on the platform is built in-house – there is an internal research team and an in-house advisory team that helps with investment advice.
“My parents helped me out. I took loans. So I know how hard those are to repay”
Many of these in-house staff are, in Dubey’s words, “working for a really great cause by virtue of their own experiences” – just like Dubey herself.
As well as her college experience, she is using her own experience in finance to help streamline the process and offer even better advance for parents and, by extension, the students.
“We also do have a premium service we offer for parents who want to get their toes in the water and experience this for the first time. So we respect all different backgrounds and our whole thing is you need to start. Just don’t wait,” Dubey insists.
“I’m an American – and I see India as the future of higher education,” she adds.