We are happy to announce our first multi-year partnership with Zomia, a peer-to-peer lender that connects funders with students from marginalized communities in South East Asia.
We discovered Zomia in the summer of 2017 and first spoke to Ryker and Kirk, the American co-founders of Zomia in September. We were directly taken by their story and enthusiasm with which they founded Zomia in 2014. One of our major concerns though was, how they would grow and become self-sustainable so that their successful model could create a much bigger impact. When we met in Singapore in November, it became clear that the two co-founders were not your regular kind of guys. They were passionate beyond belief, tremendously humble and really put their beneficiaries first. They knew every single student by name and during our discussions, specific life stories and case-studies came up as part of their explanations why they did this or how they would solve that. It strengthened our belief in the team. Once they opened up their laptop to show some of the website’s back-end, Mirte gasped in disbelief. Being active in the startup scene for over 6 years now, she’d never seen a company in their early stages being so extremely professional. She was flabbergasted and knew this was definitely Vanderes material. After many more in-depth discussions with both the Zomia team and the Vanderes board, we decided to support them and provide them funding for direct loans to the students.
The amount meaningfully contributes to their 2018/2019 funding goal, needed to help their targeted students. As the first institutional lender for Zomia, Vanderes will also function as a guinea pig to test the dashboard and see how we can be of help beyond the monetary investment. The repayments of the student loans will be re-lent so that the initial groups of dozens of students supported by the Vanderes Foundation will grow into the hundreds over time. With the strides the team has made over the past months we feel they are well underway towards a fully self-sustainable local team. Without losing their focus on ‘social impact first’ we hope to see them grow so that thousands of marginalized students will get access to education in the next decades.