Expo 2020 Dubai to support Filipino project helping unbanked students finish university increase impact

Carmina Bayombong

Dubai World Expo 2020 Global Innovators — Cohort 3
[Note: This press release was written by the Dubai World Expo team]
  • In Philippines, about 20 per cent quit university for financial reasons.
  • InvestEd aims to be a scalable solution for other developing countries.
  • Firm could get opportunity to showcase solution at Expo 2020 Dubai

DUBAI, 14 May, 2018 — A Filipina entrepreneur who created a student loan programme to help marginalised youth complete university — and help break the cycle of poverty — is to get a major boost from global social impact programme Expo Live, run by organisers of the next World Expo, Expo 2020 Dubai.

InvestEd, based in Manila, is a private student loan programme for university students who are ineligible for government or other loans because they lack access to formal financial services or have no credit history.

Unlike conventional lenders, InvestEd assesses an applicant using a combination of unorthodox sources of information, such as the student’s social media profile and psychographic tests, and traditional factors, including demographics such as the number of dependents.

Most InvestEd clients are the first person in their family to complete a university degree.

Carmina Bayombong, Co-founder and CEO at InvestEd, said: “One in five students in the Philippines drops out of college due to financial problems — often falling back into the poverty trap. InvestEd seeks to break this vicious cycle by enabling students to borrow money through non-traditional means, complete their degree and gain secure employment that sets them up for a bright future.”

“One of the biggest challenges we faced at InvestEd was finding an appropriate credit rating system to assess risks, because many applicants do not even have a bank account, let alone any record of repayments. We also provide students with a three-month grace period for repayments, unlike conventional lenders.”

Job training and coaching alongside the loan has helped most investees to find a job within 33 days of graduation, much faster than the national average of 130 days.

Bayombong said: “Since we launched in 2016, all our graduated borrowers have been earning above the minimum wage. It is truly rewarding to help young people achieve their potential and make a difference for their families.”

InvestEd plans to use the Expo Live grant to expand its operations team, improve its technology and ramp up marketing efforts to expand the impact from 60 to 3,500 students.

She added: “Through this grant, Expo Live will be significantly improving the economic mobility of thousands of students in the Philippines. Our ultimate ambition is to prove that affordable and accessible student loans are feasible in developing countries, so that underprivileged students around the world do not have to give up education.”

Expo Live is Expo 2020 Dubai’s innovation and partnership programme and has an allocation of USD 100 million to back projects that offer creative solutions to pressing challenges that impact people’s lives or help preserve the planet — or both. Organisers are looking for projects that would not reach their full potential without its support.

Launched in January 2017, Expo Live has several programmes. The flagship global Innovation Impact Grant Programme provides up to USD 100,000 per successful initiative, to be made available incrementally as the project meets ongoing conditions. Projects are also supported with business guidance and promotion, and may have the chance to showcase their work to many millions of visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Yousuf Caires, Vice President — Expo Live at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “Having a degree is not only an achievement in itself but can also lead to a better life, for the student and their entire family. InvestEd identified the gap in student loans and came up with an innovative solution to address that, opening up opportunities for so many students.”

He continued: “Expo Live is based on a firm belief that innovation can come from anywhere to everyone. This is a major component of our redefinition of what a World Expo can and should do: tap into its convening power well before the event to enable problem-solvers around the globe to promote innovation and build partnerships that leave a lasting legacy not only in the UAE and the region but across the world.”

March 2018: InvestEd’s Live Pitch at Grand Hyatt Dubai

Renato N. Duenas Jr, Deputy Consul General for the Republic of the Philippines in Dubai, said: “I was really impressed with InvestEd. Although it’s only a two-year-old company, it has already helped so many students and families escape poverty. Obviously, to increase the social impact, InvestEd will need more capital and this is where Expo Live will be really beneficial.”

InvestEd is the latest Philippines-based project to benefit from Expo Live. Liter of Light, which developed an efficient and cost-effective solar lamp, received a grant last year.

Expo 2020 Dubai will take place from 20 October, 2020 to 10 April, 2021 and will be the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. It will be a festival of human ingenuity that gives a glimpse into the future, guided by its three pillars: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

To date, Expo Live’s Innovation Impact Grant Programme has attracted more than 2,300 applicants from 136 countries. Following a rigorous evaluation process, which included live presentations in Dubai, 70 grantees from 42 countries have joined Expo Live’s community of Global Innovators, including these new members from the third cycle.

To stay tuned for the fourth cycle of the programme and to learn more about Expo Live and its Global Innovators, visit www.expo2020dubai.com/expo-live

To find out more about InvestEd, visit https://invested.ph