Profile: Rumie's Digital Education For Underprivileged Kids

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Every child around the world, regardless of socioeconomic background, ethnicity and nationality, deserve to have an education that will help them gain essential knowledge to understand and function in today’s world. In 2018, more people are understanding the importance of enhancing digital education in this tech-driven world and that includes helping underprivileged children who do not have access to the Internet, be registered onto Rumie’s digitalized educational system for free.

The Rumie Initiative, more simply knowj as Rumie, was created by Canadian founder, Tariq Fancy, who has a background in finance by attaining experience in firms such as MHR Fund Management and had graduated with a Master’s degree in Economics and Public Policy from one of France’s prestigious universities, Sciences Po Paris, as well as an MBA with distinction from INSEAD (Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires). Tariq Fancy’s establishment of Rumie started because of the influence that he gained from a friend in his MBA studies, Michael Lowenberg, and after Lowenberg passed away from cancer in 2013, Fancy decided to make a difference by ensuring that education should be a basic human right for all.

One of Rumie's best features is allowing the public to access the LearnCloud portal, an online content curation portal for NGOs, so that people can discover, share, and rate digital (and free) educational content from any source. The LearnCloud portal also served as an offline, tablet-based curriculum that helps indigenous Canadian students learn about indigenous cultures, history, and language, as well as helping them gain employment and financial literacy.

According to the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact, Rumie was one of the ten organizations who were selected as winners of the Google.org Impact Challenge, particularly Rumie as it received $750,00 in grants to provide localized education content to indigenous youth in Canada. The educational content that Rumie provides is not only through its affordable tablets but also through its Android app, LearnCloud, and the startup preloads the tablets with $50 worth of curated library content and deliver them to educational organizations so that they can implement the content in their programs.

Rumie’s $50 tablets have also been used in other countries, particularly in Liberia when the Ebola outbreak was rampant in 2014, which caused the government thereto shut down the schools for four months. The startup had set up a donation on Indiegogo to send the $50 tablets to Liberia’s 1.4 million children so that the children can still get their education by being self-taught, or even with the help of a tutor in their communities.

Based in Toronto, Ontario, Rumie’s LearnCloud portal is maintained by a talented team of skilled volunteers that have the skill sets to implement the free educational content onto the tablets. Rumie then partners up with the NGOs to send the vast content-filled tables to their respective programs and ensuring that the children who will receive the tablets be satisfied.

The startup had also impacted many children’s lives in other countries too, particularly Syria and Guatemala. Hazard Mahayni, the principal of the Al Salam School which is established within a refugee camp in Turkey, praised Rumie’s service to the children and stated, "We simply distribute offline tablets to the students and have teachers supervise them, explain to them how to use them and give them a specific program to follow at home to prepare for regular in-class exams in school. This way, we’ll be able to accept more students without being limited by finances. This helps us defend Syrian children’s vital right to education."

Rumie’s tablets have also been used in conjunction with Woodgreen, a Toronto-based community services organization, to offer online learning to newly arrived immigrants in Woodgreen’s Enhanced English Training Program. One recent example of the collaboration between Rumie and Woodgreen (as well as another nonprofit, Lifeline Syria) occurred in 2015, when the Syrian refugee crisis was at its peak, was Rumie launching digital ESL programs for Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area with a full open source curriculum of free learning resources on ESL training and life skills so that they can successful assimilate into Canadian society.

The top-quality and free educational content that is found in the tablets is profoundly supported by Rumie’s supporters who have contributed to the startup with donations that help Rumie gain resources that can greatly improve the tablets’ technological abilities. Some of Rumie's well-known supporters include Harvard Business School, Accenture, and Google, as well as Canada’s leading bank, Scotiabank, which helps Rumie deliver the educational tablets to children living in Canada’s most remote areas.

Rumie CEO Tariq Fancy’s past experience in the world of finance has helped Rumie to maintain financial stability as it continues to deliver the tablets to underprivileged children in need of a well-deserved education. The personal investments that Rumie received came from some of Canada’s leading business leaders such as former TD Bank CEO, Ed Clark (who is also on Rumie’s board of directors), and Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board CEO, Mark Wiseman (who is Tariq Fancy’s mentor and was also his former boss).

Rumie was one of the winners of the Google.org Impact Challenge, however, the list of awards and accolades that it had won since its founding in 2013 has been awarded by some of the top organizations in media, finance, education, and technology. Some of the awards and accolades include being voted as “Best Social Startup” by the Global Entrepreneurship Week and the recipient of the “MIT Solver Award” by SOLVE, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tariq Fancy’s passion towards to giving underprivileged children the best digital education all started with a visit to a former classmate’s grave site in Amsterdam in which he decided to help children gain the motivation to learn about new things. The beginnings of Rumie can inspire individuals and other startups the reason to continue making their goals a reality, especially if their goals involve helping those who live in humble conditions.