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Acción Venture Lab Makes Seed Investment in Colombia’s ESCALA

16 October 2017

Acción Venture Lab, Mountain Nazca Colombia, Invictum Capital, and several Colombian angel investors made an undisclosed seed investment in ESCALA Education, a Colombian social venture to help students save for higher education, and ultimately reduce income inequality.

(Press Release) Colombia-based ESCALA Educación announced today that it has closed a seed funding round to increase savings for higher education, generate social mobility, and ultimately reduce the income inequality gap in Colombia. This funding will allow ESCALA Educación to scale operations in Colombia by expanding its team, and boost digitization of operations. Investors include Accion Venture Lab, the seed-stage investment initiative of financial inclusion leader Accion, Mountain Nazca Colombia, Invictum Capital, and several other Colombian angel investors.

ESCALA Educación works with businesses and universities across Colombia to boost directed savings for higher education. ESCALA Educación offers safe, automated savings plans and coaching services for higher education to lower- and middle-income workers by partnering with businesses to distribute the plans to their employees. Employees’ monthly contributions are automatically deducted from the payroll and transferred to independent and secured interest-generating accounts. Employers then match up to 100% of the employee contributions. To bring even more savings to families, ESCALA Educación partners with select private universities to offer discounted tuition pricing.

“We look forward to working closely with our new prominent partners Accion Venture Lab, Mountain Nazca Colombia, and Invictum Capital. Accion Venture Lab’s strategic portfolio engagement support and global expertise in financial inclusion, Mountain Nazca Colombia’s regional expertise in scaling innovative businesses, and Invictum Capital’s strong local network and engagement capacity can help expand ESCALA Educación’s savings plan to an underserved market in Colombia,” said Jonathan Duarte, Co-founder and CEO of ESCALA Educación.

“In Colombia, nearly half of the students who start college drop out, and a majority of those students leave for financial reasons,” said Michael Schlein, CEO and President of Accion. “ESCALA Educación helps families and students overcome these challenges. It uses an innovative model that combines automated savings plans and coaching to reach the underserved through employers, providing them with access to savings plans that ultimately help them reach their educational goals.”

“Accion Venture Lab is excited to make its first investment in Colombia,” said Vikas Raj, Managing Director of Accion Venture Lab. “ESCALA Educación’s strong management team, initial traction proving a strong market fit, and exciting combination of customer acquisition and engagement strategies position it well to promote directed saving plans to support higher education and upward mobility of lower- and middle-income people across the country.”

“Mountain Nazca firmly beliefs that education is key to reach sustainable development and improve the region’s quality of life. ESCALA Educación has the capacity of helping emerging countries to overcome the access barrier for education,” said Patricia Saenz, Managing Partner of Mountain Nazca Colombia. “We are excited to be part of ESCALA Educación, as we believe that with a great team and great partners we can consolidate a great impact.”