In honor of Women’s History Month, Das Tor is partnering with the Thunderbird Women in Business Club for an extension of their monthly “Spotlight Series.” During March, we are featuring stories of women at the Thunderbird School of Global Management who share what makes them unique and how they are making a global impact.
It gives me immense pleasure to introduce our social impact start-up Eldunari.
We are a language incubator, accelerator and transformer that works to bridge the gap between academic English and social English. In many parts of the world, English language is taught in schools and remains within the classrooms. People speak multiple languages and do not have the need or avenues to use English in their everyday interactions. For context, think about any foreign language you may have learned in your school days. The tedious grammar, the contextless cultural nuances, and no pressing need to converse in it makes us forget the language as soon as we leave the session!
Unfortunately for many of us, the world operates in that very foreign language! My co-founders and teammates connected over this very issue. It was eye-opening to realize that diverse countries like Jordan and India had similar problems with English.
While many start-ups focus on large metropolitan areas, our target geographies are beyond cities. Tier II and Tier III cities, suburbs, towns and villages are our zone. The more we researched, the more obvious was the need to bridge this gap. A person’s socioeconomic progress depends on their mastery over English. From getting your kids into the best schools to getting the coveted promotion, English has always been the linchpin. We have all seen people not speak up or share because they feel ill-equipped in their English skills. This minor gap in the education system alienates a huge section of society. The media makes accents an issue, which then becomes a confidence and self-esteem challenge for many. In a nutshell, lack of social English skills is a festering pain point. We decided to tackle this issue via our EdTech start-up, Eldunari.
So acute was the need that our market research translated into a viable service right away, and we started our first cohort in India and in Jordan on 8 January 2021. We enrolled kids in the age group of 9-15 years at minimal fees. We engage them over Zoom and other virtual mediums for 8 hours a month and create rich conversation topics that force them to step out of their shells and converse! We invite Language Facilitators from around the world to join the session and share their language, cultural traditions and general life hacks with our kids. As of now, Indian and Jordanian cohorts have had visitors from Morocco, Malaysia, the USA, Nigeria, Peru, India and Jordan. Needless to say, the kids are beyond thrilled to be able to hold a conversation with people from around the world!
We are into our third month of operation now. With consistent re-enrollments and demands to expand this beyond the age group of 9-15 years, we are opening up sessions for young adults and adults. Creating content backed by educational best practices and cultural nuances, we aim to provide that intellectual safe space where people can come in and share their ideas without being interrupted, mocked or put on the spot. The fact that everyone is a non-native speaker creates a level playing field. In the coming months, we will be operational in three market segments in two countries!
Our guiding principle is “You don’t learn a language by learning the language, you learn the language by learning something else in that language.” Our sessions are defined by this idea, and we have engaged our kids in topics such as sustainability, doodles, and storytelling. Our future sessions will focus on financial literacy, cross-cultural communication, etc. The fact that we can bring the world to them via Zoom makes us feel proud!
If this strikes a chord with you, do share your thoughts with us! We are new and welcome collaborations. Feel like having a conversation with the team or want to volunteer to visit our session as a Facilitator? Reach out to us via our website or sign up here, and we will reach out. We look forward to exploring new avenues with you.
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Finally, meet our talented team:
P.S. Thank you to all those who filled out our vibe check survey! We hope this write-up provides context.