WASHINGTON, D.C., September 10, 2019 — MPOWER Financing is committed to removing financial barriers to U.S. and Canadian higher education for talented women across the globe. Unfortunately, our research shows that female students’ access to higher education is significantly hampered in some markets—particularly South Asia and Africa—by barriers that occur much earlier in the education pipeline.
MPOWER is therefore thrilled to support Malala Fund, a pioneer in the movement to break down barriers to girls’ secondary education. For every loan closed and funded between now and December 31, 2019, MPOWER will donate $25 to Malala Fund. Under its agreement with MPOWER, Malala Fund will use these funds to support the work of its Gulmakai Network, which invests in local educators and advocates in regions where the most girls are out of school.
The Partnership Will Enhance MPOWER’s Work to Remove Educational Barriers for Women
MPOWER’s partnership with Malala Fund reflects its commitment to removing financial barriers to women’s education in emerging markets—and to eventually achieving gender parity in its borrower base.
Through analysis of survey and internal data, as well as focus groups and interviews with women in its two most gender-imbalanced markets, India and Nigeria, MPOWER found that:
- Women in emerging markets experienced greater financial barriers to higher education than men. Ninety-three percent of MPOWER female borrowers reported that they had no alternate means of financing their degree, versus 79 percent of MPOWER male borrowers.
- Female access to higher education varied significantly by country. For example, some MPOWER markets were actually majority female (e.g., 58 percent of South Korean borrowers were female), while India and Nigeria had few female borrowers (only 34 and 35 percent, respectively).
- Women interviewed in India and Nigeria were generally skeptical that MPOWER could achieve gender parity in its borrower base because of the relative scarcity of women with the academic qualifications and family support to study abroad. Many women cited early marriage as a primary factor inhibiting women’s access to higher education.
Additional findings on gender equity are included in MPOWER’s recently released social impact report.
“We are excited to work with Malala Fund in an effort to help women at all stages of their education,” said Maureen Klovers, MPOWER’s Director of Social Impact. “We want to take a more proactive approach to addressing these education pipeline issues.”
“Malala Fund was a natural fit,” said Manu Smadja, MPOWER’s CEO and co-founder. “Malala is an icon for girls’ educational access around the globe, and it’s in MPOWER’s core DNA to help bright females around the planet overcome financial and social barriers to education. What would happen if we could fully empower the 3.5 billion females around the globe to truly reach their academic and professional potential, regardless of their socio-economic status? Imagine the potential breakthroughs we could reach in science, medicine, engineering, business, and government!”
Malala Fund Promotes Girls’ Education in MPOWER’s Largest Markets
Started by Nobel Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, Malala Fund is a pioneer in the movement to break down barriers to girls’ secondary education. The organization focuses on many of MPOWER’s biggest markets, such as India, Nigeria, Brazil, and Pakistan.
In India—where only 1 out of 100 girls complete 12th grade—the Gulmakai Network includes activists working to increase girls’ secondary school enrollment in Bihar, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh and among Muslim and Dalit communities.
In Nigeria, the Gulmakai Network champions a focus on helping girls living under the threat of Boko Haram and advocating for laws that support 12 years of free, safe, quality education for every girl.
About MPOWER Financing
MPOWER Financing, headquartered in Washington, D.C., and with offices in New York City and Bangalore, India, is a mission-driven fintech company and provider of global educational loans. It is the only student lender in the world that leverages both overseas and U.S. credit data, as well as future earning potential, to serve high-promise international and DACA students. MPOWER Financing works with more than 350 top universities and colleges across the U.S. and Canada to provide financing to students from over 190 countries. Since 2014, it has received over $1B in loan application volume on its platform. MPOWER Financing helps students build their credit histories and provides them with personal finance education and career support to help prepare for life after college. The team is backed by Gray Matters Capital, Breega, Potencia Ventures, Zephyr Peacock, Goal Structured Solutions, 1776, Village Capital, VARIV, DreamIt, Fresco, Chilango, K Street, and University Ventures, as well as funds managed by Lloyd Crescendo Advisors, Community Investment Management, and Goldman Sachs.