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Scholarships Consolidator: Ashutosh Burnwal

EducationWorld March 2024 | EducationWorld People
-Autar Nehru (Delhi)
Ashutosh Burnwal

Burnwal: scholarships website

Ashutosh Burnwal is Founder-CEO of Buddy4Study.com, a scholarships aggregator firm promoted by the Noida-based Smiling Star Advisory Pvt. Ltd. Moreover, he is director of Buddy4Study Foundation and Mentor of Change, the Atal Innovation Mission of Niti Aayog since 2020.

Established in 2011, Buddy4Study.com is an online platform that aggregates information on higher education scholarships offered to Indian students by government, non-profit organisations, corporates, Indian/foreign trusts, foundations and universities. Moreover, it provides scholarship management services to 150-plus non-profit organisations, trusts, companies and government agencies. Currently, Buddy4Study.com has a live database of over 70,000 scholars.

Newspeg. Last October (2023), Buddy4Study.com celebrated its 12th anniversary.

History. One of four brothers, Burnwal was born in a low-income household in Dhanbad (Jharkhand). However, through determined study and application, he became an academic topper in school. Subsequently, he performed creditably in the highly competitive IIT-JEE, often described as the world’s most competitive engineering exam, to be admitted into the Marine Engineering & Research Institute, Kolkata.

After graduating in 2006, he was campus recruited by British Petroleum where he served for four years. Following the trajectory of qualified engineers, in 2010, Burnwal signed up for the high-ranked Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad (IMT-G) for a two-year fulltime MBA program. While a postgrad student at IMT-G, he chanced upon a notification of the National Talent Search Examination (NTSE), offering scholarships for class X students. This prompted him to recall his own childhood when information on student scholarships was scarce, and he set upon a mission to gather scholarships data. Scouring newspapers for scholarship ads in the IMT-G library, he put together a database of 65 scholarships available to the public.

Direct talk. “I wanted to share this data with the public, especially students and parents. This led me to conceptualise a specialised website for scholarships. Together with Raj Kishor, a computer programmer and later co-founder of Smiling Star Advisory Pvt. Ltd, we created a website and began conducting seminars in schools to spread awareness about Buddy4Study.com,” recalls Burnwal.

Until 2016, Burnwal and Raj Kishor self-funded the venture with an initial capital investment of Rs.60 lakh. In 2015, the company got a big break with the Paris-based L’Oreal Foundation commissioning Buddy4Study.com to manage its entire scholarships programme. Currently, the company manages the scholarship programmes of 150 organisations charging them 5-15 percent of the scholarship amount.

Future plans. For fiscal 2024-25, Burnwal has set a target of facilitating scholarships valued at Rs.180 crore for 60,000 school and college students. Simultaneously, he is determined to expand the mission of Buddy4Study.com to enable school-leavers to access education loans. “Buddy4Study has devised the concept of a revolving fund, established by donors including our alumni. This fund will guarantee the loans of students from EWS (economically weaker section) families. Our ultimate objective is to ensure that all students are able to access education of their choice by way of scholarships and affordably priced loans. To reach the goal of a $30 trillion economy by the centenary year of India’s freedom, we urgently need to improve the quality of our human capital,” says this intelligent innovator who combines business with philanthropy.

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