SOURCE: Janta Foundation

Janta Foundation

December 22, 2009 08:30 ET Launches First-Ever Peer-to-Peer Education Microloan Web Site for Children

Lenders/Donors Can Directly Affect the Lives of K-12 and Vocational Students in India With as Little as $25, Helping to Close the $100 Billion Worldwide Education Gap

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - December 22, 2009) - The Janta Foundation ( today announced it has launched the first-ever Web site that allows individuals to support children and young adults in the developing world through education microloans and scholarships. Lenders and donors can now connect with, and directly impact individual students of their choice in India or Nicaragua, extending the benefits of microfinance to high-need students and their families. Janta's model delivers 100% of individual contributions directly to the specific student, empowering lenders to make a lasting impact on a child's life.

The premise of Janta's program is that education is the best self-help strategy in the struggle to escape poverty. Families in developing countries want to invest in their children's education because it's a proven way of increasing lifetime earnings.

"Through education, we can end poverty for the next generation," said Janta's founder, Sunny Mahant. "Donations alone have been unable to address the needs of the billion people who lack access to a quality education. By applying microfinance to education, we can empower poor families to help themselves by investing in their children."

Microfinance has proven a successful tool for entrepreneurs, but despite the recent boom in business microfinance, affordable loans have been largely unavailable for poor families seeking to further their children's education. By creating partnerships with local organizations in developing countries, Janta reaches high-need and out-of-school children who would not have a chance to improve their education without access to financing.

UNESCO estimates that more than 300 million children and youth worldwide lack access to school or quality education, while another 500 million adults are illiterate -- creating what Janta calls "the $100 billion education gap." Because India is home to one-third of the world's poor and has the largest population of illiterate people of any country, Mahant saw it as an obvious place to launch education microfinance.

The crossover from microfinance to the education sector has been slow, but now Web visitors around the world can invest as little as $25 in a student's education through either loans or donations. While many individuals like to invest in microloans, there are others who prefer to donate towards a scholarship. Janta allows individuals to do either, or both. Janta's unique peer-to-peer model for education microfinance addresses both the availability and the cost of capital. By combining tax-deductible donations and interest-free loans on its beta website, Janta enables families to afford schooling for their children.

Janta is working with reputable field partners like the Drishtee Foundation -- which receives support from the Acumen Fund, the Clinton Global Initiative and Microsoft -- to reach students in thousands of villages across India. Drishtee and Janta jointly conducted a year-long pilot project to develop affordable microloans for primary, secondary and vocational students. During the year, they offered education microloans in 25 villages in four states in Northern India. Those loans are now beginning to be paid back, demonstrating the determination of students and families to invest in education and to repay their loans.

Through local partnerships and a social lending platform, Janta believes it can help many more students get access to education. "People recognize that education is truly the best way to alleviate poverty, especially for girls in the developing world," said Mahant, "and now, with just $25, they can make a lasting impact on a child's life."

About Janta

Janta is a San Francisco-based education microfinance non-profit that allows people to help alleviate global poverty and directly affect the life of a child with as little as $25. Through microloans and scholarships, Janta enables poor families to invest in their children's education in primary, secondary, and vocational school. Janta's goal is to make education microfinance widely accessible and affordable, with an emphasis on small loans and scholarships for high-need and high-potential students. For more information on Janta visit

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