Higher Education Financing As a team of young entrepreneurs with a heavy interest and involvement in the spheres of technology and the society, Skolafund was an idea that came to us having witnessed first hand the challenges – and untapped opportunities – of higher education financing. We formed Skolafund as a way of bridging the two, via a sustainable business solution that harnesses both the power of digital technology and a socially conscious hyper-connected society.
What We Do
There are millions of undergraduates in Southeast Asia & India who come from low and middle income families struggling to finance their university education. Scholarships are normally given to the top 7% of the undergraduate population – which also includes affluent students – due to the merit-based nature of traditional scholarships. Meanwhilst, government cutbacks and in some cases, the sheer lack of a mass market student loan programmes (which doesn’t exist yet in Indonesia for example) mean that a huge number of students either struggle to find financing, or jeopardise the quality of their education by taking on multiple jobs to scrape together tuition fees and living costs at the expense of rest, focus and study time.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have another problem. During our time in university, we witnessed huge outpourings of generosity for desperate students appealing to social media for funds to stay in school. Some anonymous donors responded on the basis of nothing more than a Facebook post and a bank account number, which made us realise that there is no shortage of philanthropists who care deeply about education. In fact the main challenge isn’t so much about finding a willing donor, as the hurdles that donor faces; first, in identifying and accrediting the prospective sponsorship recipient’s needs, and then trusting that the funds they commit will be used for the purpose stated.
Skolafund is a web platform that allows undergraduates to crowdsource their scholarships from the community, corporations and philanthropic organisations. We connect those who need funds, with those who have a passion for supporting educational causes, allowing those transactions to proceed with a peace of mind afforded by our user verification steps. We believe there are many individual sponsors, philanthropists and companies looking to fund higher education scholarships, but who simply lack the resources to create and manage their own scholarship programmes. Skolafund addresses this gap by building trust and creating efficiency, acting not just as a match-maker but a go-between for funds. We have two services: Crowdfund a Scholarship (for students) and Create a Scholarship (for sponsors), which allows companies and individual philanthropists to create, promote, manage and disburse their own scholarships.
Why Are We Different
Higher education funding-focused
Unlike most crowdfunding platforms in the region, Skolafund is focused on funding for education. Our deep understanding has allowed us to tailor make platform solutions addressing pain points specific to this area. One of these solutions relates to trust. Skolafund uses a standardised series of verification steps to assess the legitimacy of funding campaigns, including confirmation of student user identity, enrollment status and evidence of need.
We also handle all sponsorship money, depositing tuition payments directly into the respective student’s educational institution account, and furnishing sponsors with student progress reports. In addition to that, we are in the midst of building a series of proprietary technologies to automate our processes, streamlining and vastly increasing the efficiency within our operations pipeline. This will confer a serious advantage over any future competitors through an optimisation of campaign quality (measured in likelihood of success), enabling us to offer best value services for our site users.
Our Revenue Model
Sponsorship fee & scholarship creation fees, but more to come!
Currently, Skolafund is already revenue-generating. We charge a 5% service fee for every sponsorship made on the platform. We will be looking to monetise in other ways in the future and are currently looking into an additional service managing corporate scholarship programmes, e-wallets, financial product and services recommendations to students, as well as job placements for students who are graduating.
Our Market Opportunity
Unique position within the region
The market for higher education in Southeast Asia and India is worth more than USD 160 Billion. The crowdfunding industry is also growing rapidly. In Asia, between 2014-2015, donation-based crowdfunding volumes grew more than 160%. This number will very likely continue to grow, and surpass crowdfunding levels in Europe and the US. Skolafund’s positioning as the crowdfunding platform for higher education makes it unique and different in the Southeast Asian crowdfunding industry. Currently, we are focused on sponsorships and contributions which are philanthropic in nature. In the future, Skolafund will explore the possibility of venturing into the crowdsourced peer-to-peer education loans post Series-A
Education is the key to opening up new markets
Skolafund will start development of a proprietary technology called ‘Scholar Rating System’ which will expedite identification of the most-deserving undergraduate candidates for scholarships, which benefits both sponsors and students by increasing the likelihood of each campaign success. We will also strengthen our connections and partnerships with universities in Indonesia (Jakarta, Bandung, Jogjakarta), Malaysia and Brunei. With these steps, Skolafund will strengthen its roots in the education funding space with a healthy flow students to our platform. Skolafund will also retain its sponsors by launching ‘Recurring Sponsorships’ which will allow sponsors to do auto-sponsorships monthly.
Pioneers of education crowdfunding in Southeast Asia
Since we launched about a year ago, we’ve managed to achieve :
- 5000 signed up sponsors
- 35 successful campaigns
- RM 400,000 pledged
- Winnder of Halal Tech Venture Challenge 2013
- One out of ten GLobal Financial Technology startups selected for Startupbootcamp Fintech accelerator programme in Singapore
- One out of twenty ASEAN startups selected for MaGIC’s ASEAN Accelerator Programme
- Raised a pre-seed investment and grants worth RM 103,000 in 2015
Indicative Usage of Funds
CO-FOUNDER & CEO
Syamil is listed as Forbes 30-under-30 Social Entrepreneurs in Asia. As the CEO of Skolafund he focuses on engaging users both sponsors and undergraduates. Syamil is also leading the team’s marketing & design efforts. He has experience developing his own company in the training and education space.
CO-FOUNDER & COO
Syakir has experienced building his own software development company in Singapore serving Small & Medium Enterprises. On top of that he has experience working for Indonesia’s biggest retailer in their E-commerce team. In 2013, Syakir was awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award in Singapore, given by SMBA. In Skolafund, Syakir is focused on the operational aspects of the business.
CO-FOUNDER & CPO
Faruq is a seasoned & experienced developer. He has had experience developing multiple mobile and web applications some of which have seen hundreds of thousands of downloads. Faruq was also a Lead Developer for a venture-backed startup in Singapore. In Skolafund, Faruq is focused on the big picture of the Skolafund’s technology infrastructure. He plans and develop the technical infrastructure required to support Skolafund’s growth.
CO-FOUNDER & CTO
Wildan is talented developer, with 3 years of web and mobile application software development experience, Wildan has experienced working in Software Development companies in Kuala Lumpur. In Skolafund, he is focused on building the new features and ensuring that the current platform run smoothly.