Originally published: Techcrunch | By Mike Butcher | Feb 1, 2017
At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, one of the big topics of conversation was education. Despite billions poured into programmes in developing countries to educate booming populations, the budgets are just scratching the surface.
UNESCO estimates that the world would have to increase education development spending to $39 billion a year, or about three times current levels, if it was to have any real effect.
Given that this funding is unlikely to arrive any time soon – and given President Trump’s drastic cutting of funding to UN projects – others are looking in to how technology can play a role.
This is exactly what new startup Matterfund plans to tackle. The SF/London-based non-profit has taken a leaf out of the Crunchbase and AngelList playbook, to, as it says, “turn on the lights” for those working in education development.
The idea is to surface all the programmes out there, and this make the whole thing more transparent and efficient. This is a non-profit intelligence platform and social graph seeking to match top education initiatives to funders, partners and system leaders.
Nathan Martin, Matterfund’s ED of Strategy says “many insights are locked away in 100 page PDFs. We want to democratise education intelligence, break insights out into a real-time Crunchbase-like platform, so people and funders have a better sense of their surroundings.”
In the last six months, they built and piloted their platform in South Africa, enrolling 132 organizations, including 15 funders representing $149M in educations funds, and are being supported and nurtured by the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Education.
They are already getting interest. Melanie Smuts, CEO and Founder of Streetlight Schools, a Johannesburg-based school serving underserved communities says Matterfund’s platform will “make it much easier to find and connect with organisations who could help support for our work. Matterfund would let me spend less time on fundraising and more time in our classrooms.”
This past July, the Council partnered with innovation agency Entangled Solutions to put together the Matterfund team and validate the pilot. “We are focused on quality product,” said Kyle Cureau, Matterfund’s interim CEO. “We started with 150 hours of field interviews and we continue to shape our development around the need of our users.”
Matterfund was initially funded by Dino Varkey, head of GEMS Education, and an ally of the Clinton Foundation. Pearson Education provided strong support and additional funding. Sir Michael Barber of Pearson serving as chair of the Global Agenda Council and seconding Martin to the project. Members of the steering group (including Joel Klein (Oscar Health), J Puckett (BCG) and Shiv Khemka (The Global Education and Leadership Foundation) donated time and personal funding to the project.
They are now expanding Matterfund’s intelligence tools to the Middle East, India, and Pakistan and have $130M in total funding represented and over 1,300 profiles across 19 impact topics.
It’s fascinating to see that Crunchbase/AngelList could inspire such a project…