Edukasyon.ph CEO and co-founder Henry Motte-Muñoz shared how the company operated as a social enterprise by balancing sustainability and impact sides of the business in the recently held Financial Times Investing for Good Asia conference in Hong Kong.
In the entrepreneur showcase session, Muñoz sat down with Financial Times specialist writer on Sustainable Development, Sarah Murray, to discuss how Edukasyon.ph achieves more social impact by being a for-profit company.
Established in 2014, Edukasyon.ph aims to democratize access to higher education for students in the Philippines through an online platform that connects them to schools, courses, and scholarships here and abroad. To reach more students, Edukasyon.ph gets funding from investors through financing rounds, as well as income-generating businesses like getting schools to use the platform for applications and publishing content relevant to students.
“We felt that a for-profit model would be a good way of creating incentives for stakeholders. For example, the students are able to come because the platform is free for them. The schools, on the other hand, would have to pay and there is actually a strong case for them to join the platform – to get exposed to millions of students and to better understand them. This is why we find this model easier to scale and easier to keep sustainable,” shared Motte-Muñoz
Employing this model, Edukasyon.ph has seen significant growth over the years. From only reaching a few thousand students a month, the company has recently reached one million unique monthly users per month. Edukasyon.ph has also recently closed its pre-series A round of financing and has seen a sizable jump in valuation.
But as with other businesses, Edukasyon.ph also has its fair share of challenges.
One of these is the internet penetration in the country which it addresses by mounting offline activities like education fairs and workshops nationwide. There’s also this issue of balancing impact and sustainability, and looking for investors who believe in both.
“The challenge there has always been the trade-off between sustainability and impact, so we try to find our niche – investors who believe in the for-profit model and want to see impact from a practical perspective but are a little bit pragmatic in how you achieve it,” said Motte- Muñoz.
In line with this, Motte- Muñoz also shared that Edukasyon.ph has just won a sizable grant from the Australian government for Investing in Women. The grant will go to the production of content covering education and employment specifically targeted to young women.
Aside from finding the perfect balance between sustainability and impact, Muñoz also shared that it is very important for social enterprises to learn to build around the system early on. “You have to work within the infrastructure constraints,” Motte- Muñoz added.