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Chennai-based social business incubator, Villgro, has invested an undisclosed amount in mobile-based education startup Vahan.

Founded in 2015 by Madhav Krishna, Vahan is a mobile education platform designed to complement instructor-led training for underprivileged communities. It helps adults from low-income groups to learn English to improve their employability.

The product finds its utility at a place where skill training institutes find it difficult to train their candidates in English due to lack of good English teachers and the dearth of an effective curriculum.

How Does It Work?

Vahan’s learning platform works on voice and SMS based apps, even on messaging apps like WhatsApp. The app is designed to work on both feature phones and smartphones. Learners just need to call a number to initiate a session. There is no download or data connection required. The content of the app is customized to align with the curriculum of the client’s training program.

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According to Madhav, 75% of all mobile phones in India are feature or dumbphones and 65% of all mobile phone users in India don’t have access to the Internet. Hence, there was a need to deploy such a solution that is cost effective and easily accessible even on the go.

The app has a web-based Learning Management System that allows instructors to track their students’ scores and progress, review students’ responses and send them feedback via SMS or voice messages.

Vahan has piloted its product in partnership with community-based organisations that offer free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for low-income immigrants. The pilots have been run with a total of 65 students over 12 weeks.

Villgro had reportedly completed its first round of fundraising for its  impact fund Menterra Venture Advisors, launched for making early-stage investments in startups working in the agriculture, energy, education, healthcare, and skilling sectors, January 2016.

Earlier in 2015, it had announced INR 20 Cr. fund to invest in edtech startups working primarily in areas pertaining to improving learning outcomes for school-going children and skills training for urban youth. It has also partnered with US-based Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), which is an anchor investor for its education technology initiatives. Its website records that Villgro has invested $1.1 Mn (INR 76 Mn) in seed fundings while it has raised $16.8 Mn (INR 1124 Mn) of funding till date.

The development was first reported by ET.


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