EdTech in Emerging Markets: Investing for Impact
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Simmons, Erin Melissa
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CitationSimmons, Erin Melissa. 2019. EdTech in Emerging Markets: Investing for Impact. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractWhile global access to schooling has increased at historic rates, quality has not. In too many school systems around the world, students spend years in classrooms yet fail to learn basic literacy and numeracy. Education technology has the potential to scale rapidly high-quality, affordable education.
Omidyar Network is U.S.-based philanthropic investment firm. The education initiative has invested more than $150 million in nearly 100 education innovations on four continents since 2014. This Capstone is focused on a strategic project that I led as a resident at Omidyar Network through which I sought to answer three questions: (1) how to influence public, private, and social sector education leaders to scale and sustain EdTech ecosystems in emerging economies such as Brazil, (2) how to align Omidyar Network’s EdTech strategy with the emergent contexts such as Brazil, and (3) how to leverage Omidyar Network’s global platform to transfer global best practices to local contexts such as Brazil.
My action plan to address these strategic questions was rooted in three bodies of literature: education technology, impact investing, and, organizational learning. Combined, these three bodies of literature offered insight into how Omidyar Network’s education initiative might scale EdTech ecosystems, leverage the tools of impact investing to do so effectively, and develop the organizational capacity to align its investment strategy to the context in which it is investing.
Overall, I had mixed success in realizing my theory of change based on the evidence that I collected during my strategic project. To synthesize my findings, I applied impact-creation logic (Seelos & Mair, 2017), a social sector version of business theory, and conducted both a capability audit (Applegate, 2006; Ulrich & Smallwood, 2004) and an organizational learning audit (Edmondson, 2012).
My strategic project yielded findings that could directly impact my leadership capacity, Omidyar Network’s education initiative’s model of operating, and the evolution of the global education impact investment field. For me, the learnings were to sustain curiosity, to embrace unlearning, and to go local. For Omidyar Network’s education initiative, the implications are to innovate to influence, to encourage small failures, and to design globally. For the impact investing field broadly, my recommendations are to map the ecosystem, to foster network learning, and to work ambi-directionally.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42063281