Wedu is an award-winning social enterprise that unlocks the leadership potential of women from Asia—we call them ‘Rising Stars’. Wedu provides the first lifelong mentorship program delivered online, connecting inspiring mentors globally with Rising Stars in underserved communities. Wedu also invests in their development using innovative financing tools to enable them to access tertiary education and become change-makers in their communities.
Investment in women’s leadership not only empowers women, but also has a multiplier effect on improving the development of communities and countries as a whole. Increased women’s empowerment is correlated with higher competitiveness and higher GDP per capita (World Economic Forum). While financing for education is an industry worth $10-$30 trillion (USD) in the next 20 years, the current financing model contributes to keeping over millions of pupils in outside of university.
The mentorship aspect of the program provides critical, and often lacking, support to help students navigate through their university education and achieve individual goals. Wedu matches selected women, or "rising stars", with mentors based on overlapping interests, individual values and principles, and time availability. Mentors may be located anywhere in the world and are responsible for "meeting" with their respective rising stars twice per month online, usually via Skype. The first meeting of each month is dedicated to personal development and incorporates goal-setting exercises, developing a plan to achieve short-term goals, and discussing long-term goals. The second meeting of the month centers on leadership development using an original curriculum created by Wedu. The mentor receives conversation guidelines and sample topics include identity, empathy, religious pluralism, and human rights and democracy.
Mentors apply to become part of the Wedu network; so far, word of mouth has proved the most successful method to generate interest. While not all rising stars currently have mentors, the program is looking to partner with organizations and develop a more sustainable supply of mentors in the future by recruiting alumni, or its returning rising stars.
Wedu is also pioneering Future Income Sharing Agreements (FISAs), an innovative financing option for university education in Asia. FISAs are financial instruments that are more flexible and affordable than loans. Rising Stars who have been granted FISAs will receive funding for their university education, agree to contribute a small percentage of their future income for a fixed amount of time to pay it forward to the next generation of Rising Stars who need funding support. For the Rising Star, this means a university education will be much more affordable and impactful than it ever was.
In 2014, Wedu announced its commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting to unlock the leadership potential of 1,000 female Rising Stars in Asia over the next four years by providing inspirational lifelong mentorship and innovative financing options to achieve higher education.