Varthana’s Innovative Financing Model for Tertiary Education Wins USD 250,000 Grant from UBS Optimus Foundation


March 6, 2023, Bengaluru: Varthana, an organization focused on providing student financing solutions to lower and lower-middle income students in India, received a USD 250,000 award from UBS Optimus Foundation. The foundation partnered with Convergence to award the Tertiary Education Financing Prize to four winners globally, two of which are based in India, for a total of USD 1 million.

The winners were chosen for identifying successful existing solutions that provide inclusive, fair, and affordable financing to students in tertiary education in low and lower-middle-income countries. The selection process included a virtual pitch day with applicants from developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America presenting their solutions to a panel of expert judges. The four winners were selected based on their scalability and ability to increase funding for tertiary education.

The financing solutions aim to provide greater access to cost-effective tertiary education to people in emerging markets who have limited options. The awards were evaluated based on their ability to contribute towards greatly increasing funding for tertiary education and ensuring that more young people in these countries have access to high-quality education in areas that will have good employment opportunities in the future.

“We are delighted to award the Tertiary Education Prize recognizing the best solutions available today that enable students to access higher education through inclusive, fair, and affordable financing. Education is key to transforming employment opportunities and life chances and we want to develop investible, innovative, and scalable financing solutions that help more young people on this journey,” said Maya Ziswiler, CEO of UBS Optimus Foundation, on congratulating the winners.

On being awarded the prize, Steve Hardgrave, Co-Founder and CEO, Varthana, said:“I am delighted that Varthana’s solution was selected as one of the best student financing solutions from those offered by institutions across the world. Varthana, since its inception, has worked tirelessly towards making education accessible to the lower and lower-middle income segments by providing easy access to credit. This affirmation by UBS Optimus and Convergence towards our mission of providing access to quality education is heartening.”

Varthana has provided more than 5,000 loans to students who have limited access to financing and no credit history through its student financing solution. The solution is implemented in collaboration with domestic tertiary institutions, whose students often require financial assistance once they are admitted to colleges, universities, vocational training institutions, or other post-secondary education programs. Varthana plans to use the prize money to expand its student financing solution and improve accessibility for underserved students in India.