The vision of two ex-students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) to help poor students compete at the country’s most competitive entrance exams, got a $90,000 (Rs 50 lakh) boost last week.
Avanti Fellows, the non-profit group run by the students, was awarded one of 20 Echoing Green Fellowships for young social entrepreneurs. The 25-year-old US-based organisation selected Avanti from 4,000 applicants around the world.
Founded by Krishna Ramkumar and Akshay Saxena and now spread across seven cities, the group works to help children (belonging to families with an annual income of less than Rs2.5 lakh per annum) compete for top medical and engineering college positions. The first batch of 120 Avanti Fellows will appear for competitive exams next year.
Avanti selects students through an all-India exam and helps them prepare over two years, providing career guidance, help with bank loans, mentorship and free coaching through tie-ups with coaching institutes. “We are trying to to build a level playing field for poor children,” said Ramkumar.
The fellowship, which is awarded to social entrepreneurs whose organisations are less than three year old, also saw four other winning groups from India this year in the field of health, energy and education. “The fellowship is a very big deal and puts you on the social entrepreneurship map,” said Saxena.