Unite For Sight's 2011 Global Health & Innovation Conference
Blog Report by Chung-Sang Tse, Unite For Sight Global Health Leadership Intern
"Kuska Peru," Kimberly Faldetta, Medical Student, Penn State College of Medicine
Social Enterprise Pitches are ideas in the brainstorming or early implementation stage. Selected participants presented their new idea in the format of a 5-minute social enterprise pitch. Following the pitch, there was a 5-minute period for questions and answers, as well as feedback from the audience. The presenters were directed to focus their presentations on the problem that they are working to solve, the evidence basis for their idea, the expected impact, as well as plans for measuring outcomes, and not just outputs.
In Iquitos, Peru, post-secondary education costs $80 per month. Yet some students are forced to abandon their in-progress studies. Why? Not because their grades are falling behind or that they have committed a punishable offense, but rather, it is because the students cannot pay the tuition. Worse yet, these are the same individuals whom the community relies on to carry them out of poverty – the future business operators, health workers, and technicians – who are dropping out of college despite the desire to learn and the drive to achieve.
Kuska, represented by Kimberly Faldetta at the conference, aims to bridge this gap. A fitting name derived from the indigenous Peruvian language, Qetchua, meaning “together”, Kuska connects donors with aspiring students. Peruvian students pursuing master, doctorate, and technical degrees submit their application to Kuska for funding considerations. After passing the selection screening, the students appear on Kuska’s website where potential donors can browse profiles. Donors choose which student(s) to support and give PayPal payments directly to the institution of study. Grades can be tracked by the donor to monitor progress. Eight students are currently featured on the website: two students (a Nursing student and a Business Administration student) have already received full funding for their studies, while the remaining six students still need money to finish their studies.
In this model, financial capital meets human capital. In essence, this is poverty reduction through education, where the benefits are predicted to ripple from the students to their families and the rest of the community.