“From ending poverty to improving health to curbing climate change, the success of the Sustainable Development Agenda depends on progress in education. We need to lean in and build the political will and financial momentum to make quality education for all a reality.”– Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education
MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellow Yaser Alhindi was drawn to the social impact space for the same reason many of us are: instead of waiting on the sidelines for a more equitable world, he wanted to actively be part of building it. With previous experience in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and learning management, Yaser saw first-hand the transformative role education could play in achieving that vision.
He knew he wanted to use his career to advance global access to education, and began his journey to impact by earning a Masters Degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California. After graduation, he joined the MovingWorlds Institute to translate what he’d learned into real-world impact — Yaser shared, “I studied social entrepreneurship academically, but didn’t have enough real hands-on experience with a Base of the Pyramid (BoP) community. The social impact project through MovingWorlds was a great opportunity to have that exposure.”
Through the MovingWorlds guided matching and planning process, Yaser partnered with Animedh Charitable Trust (ACT), a nonprofit empowering underserved women to transform their lives through education and vocational training. Continue reading to see the shared value his experience created!
Empowering women through education
ACT provides social services to vulnerable women and children at the individual, community, and national levels. Its programs address a critical lack of public services in India, particularly for the millions of women experiencing poverty. According to the World Economic Forum, India’s inequality crisis hurts girls and women the most, finding that “girls belonging to families in the top 20% get nine years of education on average, while girls from families in the bottom 20% get none at all.”
ACT takes a holistic approach, with programs focusing on life skills development, vocational training, and on basic and higher education. As you can see in the figure below, its programs have directly impacted thousands of women and children, and the team partnered with Yaser to help expand its reach even further.
Working together to scale impact
Yaser explained, “The main goal of our project was to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system to help measure the impact of its programs and empower the team to make data-driven decisions as it scales. My main focus was on developing tracking metrics for two current Children’s Education programs: the Study Buddy Program, and Project Sakshartaa.
In the Study Buddy Program, college students tutor children after school in core and critical subjects like English, Math, Science, and Computers. Project Sakshartaa focuses on educating the girl child in rural areas, aiming to improve literacy, writing, and comprehension skills of children in tribal villages who are likely to drop out due to challenges with learning in multiple languages. I mapped the theory of change for each program, detailing the inputs, outputs, outcomes, and anticipated impact. I also worked with the team to refine a proposal for funding the extension of its programs.”
Creating change, being changed
At the end of last year, ACT celebrated seven years in operation and reflected on the progress made with the help of experteers like Yaser, donors, partners, champions, beneficiaries, and volunteers.
The team shared, “What started as a small but significant journey to work with women and children marching towards education and empowerment has emerged stronger with every passing year, thanks to each and every one of our partners and supporters. ACT’s Study Buddy programme in English and Computers and fee sponsorships are ongoing and have seen repeated success in the past few years. ACT’s vocational programmes — Saksham, Donna, and Samruddhi for Adivasi women — are bearing great outcomes with many women skilled and earning increasing income. With greater faith and confidence, as we open the next innings I’m proud and humbled to share that our relationships and partnerships have strengthened and endured the test of time, while new projects and responsibilities are now taking us pan-India.”
Expanding access to learning ended up being a learning experience for Yaser himself, too. One of the highlights he shared with us was working side-by-side with one of ACT’s founders, Nivedita Desai: “I was inspired by how Nivedita has both great passion for the mission and ability to make the right business decisions. Seeing how she balanced what can at times be competing demands was invaluable to learning the ropes of social entrepreneurship.”
Being embedded within a social enterprise also allowed him to experience life from the local perspective, rather than as a tourist. He reflected that, “I had the opportunity to visit the slums of Mumbai with the team to witness the ultimate impact the programs were having on these women’s lives, and the impact they have on their children’s futures as a result. It’s one thing to focus on the metrics, but seeing the ultimate impact of the work makes it real in a meaningful way.”
Reflecting on the Fellowship experience as a whole, Yaser shared that, “I was at crossroads in my career when I applied to the Fellowship, and I’ve found through this experience that it is ok to have uncertainty, things will come at the right time, and I now have new tools to stop and reflect before rushing into next steps career-wise. The program is literally opening further possibilities, networks, paths, lifelong learning and development, and a great community.”
We’re proud to work with inspiring professionals like Yaser and impactful organizations like ACT in building a more equitable future for all. Are you at a crossroads in your career, and looking for the right opportunity to make an impact? Apply to our MovingWorlds Global Fellowship to join this global community of leaders and do-ers behind world changing ideas!