Case study by Acumen LatAm Impact Ventures LLC - “ALIVE Ventures” and Crehana Education

In the spirit of showcasing leadership and raising standards of responsible investment among all our signatories, we are pleased to publish case studies of all the winning and shortlisted entries for the PRI Awards 2020.

Give a brief overview of the initiative, its objectives, and why you decided to undertake it. 

In 2019, ALIVE Ventures (ALEG) launched a project to expand the social impact of the Peruvian online learning platform, Crehana Education. A company within ALIVE’s portfolio, Crehana helps Spanish-speaking students get access to education, and develop creative and digital skills through online project-based courses. The courses are developed by industry experts, and are designed to help people access qualified jobs in different industries. 

The fact that Crehana’s courses are sold at affordable prices and that some of them are even available for free, allows the company to reach students from any socioeconomic segment. However, according to an impact measurement study conducted last year, the team estimated that around 10% of its students live below the poverty line and extreme poverty lines.  

While the course has already reached a large number of disadvantaged people, (~200k students living in poverty), ALIVE saw an opportunity to further expand its reach. Crehana and ALIVE agreed that not only was this a good chance to make a genuine social impact, but also a good business opportunity in an under-served market.  

Describe how your project is aligned to Active Ownership 2.0, including: the significance of the systemic, real-world outcomes it seeks. 

The high barriers to entry into higher education in Latin America prevent millions of young people from having access to qualified job opportunities. Two-thirds of Latin American youth do not have university degrees or higher technical education, and around 20% of young people are unemployed. Crehana offers an affordable and innovative pedagogical model that allows people from any socioeconomic segment to quickly and continuously learn in-demand skills and improve their employment opportunities.  

According to an impact study performed by 60 Decibels, a global firm specialized in impact measurement, +80% of students apply what they learn in the platform in their current job, +63% of Crehana’s graduates recognize Crehana’s importance in enabling them to get their current job and +36% have jumped into a higher income bracket after studying in Crehana. 

Throughout the project, the level of involvement and commitment from both ALIVE and the Crehana was permanent. Monitoring meetings were held on a weekly basis, with both an ALIVE member and a team member from Crehana. Likewise, the project involved a series of meetings with external parties, including government and different corporations in Lima. 

The challenges associated with this initiative (e.g. free rider issues hindering first movers). How these were overcome, and what was learned. 

The most common challenge faced was in engaging external parties to participate in the project. 

After vast market research and internal brainstorming ALIVE found there were three main channels through which Crehana could expand its presence in vulnerable populations:  

  1. Business to Government (B2G) - Partnering with education ministries to enable students from public schools to access Crehana’s content. 
  2. Business to Business (B2B) – Partnering with big corporations and NGOs that are providing access to education to disadvantaged populations. 
  3. Business to Customer (B2C) – Partnering with media companies with target audiences concentrated in low-income populations.  

All these solutions required ALIVE and Crehana to establish a significant number of connections with external parties, which in some instances were hard to achieve. And even once established, closing a partnership can take a while. A good example of this was with the Peruvian Ministry of Education. It can take between six months and a year to close a contract, and start a pilot, with the ministry. To overcome this difficulty, ALIVE and Crehana contacted several education companies who had in the past successfully completed contracts with the government, and were able to learn important lessons from their experiences.  

The team learned not only which departments and people it should reach out to, to present Crehana’s solution, but also what were the key considerations that the ministry usually takes into account when choosing an education programme. 

For instance, ALIVE and Crehana learned that the ministry favoured projects that were quick to implement, could be scaled rapidly, and the educational impact of which could be monitored and measured. The team took all these recommendations on board, and managed to agree a pilot programme with the ministry in a record time of just four months.