Nepal has stolen his heart twice. The first time on his honeymoon in the Himalayas 26 years ago and the second time, quite recently, by the Bloom School at Rockstart Impact.
”You really have to have a heart of stone if you can’t get enthusiastic about the Bloom School, said Edmond Hilhorst, founder of Independer, a comparison website. Hilhorst visited theschool for the first time in 2014, as mentor at Rockstart Impact, and was immediately impressed. “A class full of children is always moving but these children are being especially groomed for a promising future. The school generates income from the monthly school fees.If the occupancy rate gets above 90%you make a profit.”
The fees are lower than most other schools. “And when parents can’t afford to pay, the Bloom team manages to find scholarships by appealing to its large international network. The school’s three founders know exactly how it works as they are also from poor families but a succession of scholarships and good schools ensured they made it to top universities in the US and Europe – one of them even got a Master’s degree at MIT.”
The founders have made Bloom a special school. “They are not only very able but also sincere about education in Nepal, otherwise why would you give up a well-paid consultancy job in the US? Their vision is to give children the opportunity to develop their talents through what they call, “inter-based education.” Bloom’s ambition is to setup school communities throughout Nepal providing top education at a reasonable price. The bigger picture is to create the country’s leaders of the future and help solve Nepal’s problems.”
Hilhorst was much impressed at the way the Bloom entrepreneurs tackled the devastation caused by the earthquake last year. “The new school building in Kathmandu collapsed – luckily it happened when the children were not in school. They immediately showed their resilience by rolling up their sleeves and working 24/7. Within two weeks, the children were back in class - in tents. I call that entrepreneurship at its best.”
This year’s donations are being used to build new classrooms and pupil accommodation on land Bloom leases. In two years, they hope to have 1000 pupils. Hilhorst and his co-investors in the Nepal Impact Investment Club intend their investment to be used for new build and alsoland purchase. “I was rather concerned at first. What’s the social impact of investing in land? But in the end, I decided it was the right thing to do. It makes Bloom independent of landowners and rent hikes and opens the way to invest in facilities. In the long- term we can be certain of stability and make even more impact.”
Interested in joining the Netherlands Impact Investment Club?
Please contact fund manager Willem Grimminck of One to Watch.