CodersTrust originally launched in Bangladesh with a big vision to bring microfinance into the digital and globalized world of the 21st century. But we started with a simple offering, whereby we offered freelancers the option to pay a small upfront fee or deposit to join CodersTrust to get their skills upgraded so that they could earn more money on freelance portals. Our strategy was to start simple, gain traction, get credibility and then bring about the revolution. With a team of 40 people, +1500 students signed up, backing by major financial institutions and a lot of costly lessons learned, we’re now ready to introduce what we believe is the true revolution.
As of today, any aspiring freelancer in Bangladesh can now crowdfund their online education and repay with their future freelance earnings. And anyone can invest in a freelancer and get repaid with a fixed 10% interest. You can now go to https://invest.coderstrust.com/, select a student and make an investment for as little as USD 25 in that student’s online freelance venture.
You can check out students’ existing online freelance profiles before deciding whether to invest — and before you decide to effectively become an angel investor in a young person’s freelance career.
How we got here?
CodersTrust started out by raising venture capital to fund students ourselves, with a target to sign up a critical mass of students to pool the risk and to ensure a good diversification of students and opportunities. We pitched to everyone from development funds, to business angels and venture capitalists to invest in CodersTrust, so that we could afford to take more talented students on board even though they could not pay the full price of their education. This process allowed us to test, streamline and optimize the full “LEARN — EARN — RETURN” cycle to reduce costs and risk factors while maximizing students earning. We now have a better data-driven understanding of the selection criteria for students, such as what it actually costs and requires operationally, what are the risk factors and what is the potential online freelance revenue, as illustrated in a simple business case analysis on the following graph.
Why we do it?
We’re now using this knowledge and data to structure an open financial marketplace, with CodersTrust as the middleman between students looking to fund their online education as freelancers and investors looking to make a difference and get a return.
CodersTrust facilitate the required seed investments into these early-stage freelance students in the marketplace, based on a “human capital contract”, where the freelancer receives student funding in exchange for a percentage of his or her future income from her freelance profile over a fixed period of time. With CodersTrust, students effectively share the risk of their education with an investor by selling a percentage of his or her future income generated from future success in the freelance market.
The advantage for students is that they don’t have to pay the costs of their education upfront or take onboard the full financial risk of their education by themselves. With an equity investment, as opposed to student loans, they will never face the possibility of defaulting, or feel the pressure to meet fixed monthly payments or worry about being stuck with a debt burden while struggling with a low-paid job. The investor, on the other hand, is in a much better position than the student to pool and diversify risk. With a critical mass of investment, high-income earners will end up covering the losses produced by low-income earners.
We as a company have taken the risk of getting us to this point, but we now ask investors to share some of the risk on individual students in exchange for a financial return. This will enable CodersTrust to reduce the cost of capital for students even further. With the added potential to allow us to also increase the number of students by being able to access more capital, we will be able to reduce the cost of education even further, taking advantage of economies of scale and increased purchasing power towards educational institutions and content providers.
Solving fundamental problems in student finance
The CodersTrust funding marketplace solves the following market failures and risks in student finance: First, CodersTrust provides a screening process to avoid the “adverse selection” of cheaters and free-riders, by distinguishing high-risk/low-potential students from low-risk/high-potential students. Second, CodersTrust monitors and estimates the costs of education and risks in terms of dropout, acquisition of obsolete skills and the likelihood of students ending up in low paid jobs to ensure these are all lower than the potential gains. Third, CodersTrust solves the “information asymmetry problem”, since investors can very easily feel uncertain of the true intentions, qualifications, motivations and future earning potentials of students. Finally, CodersTrust ensures enforceability and positive incentives for students to repay investors.
How we do it?
We’re relying on so-called “financial technology” or FINTECH to solve these fundamental problems and to make student finance work more efficiently.
1. A DIGITAL WORKFORCE: CodersTrust would not have been possible without Facebook (direct access to 1B people), Massive Open Online (MOOC) companies, such as Udemy, Pluralsight and Coursera (providing more than 100,000 world-quality courses available to anyone, anywhere) and freelance portals (160 million jobs to be created by 2025). Everything we do is online and can be tracked, measured and analyzed in real time. The entire student cycle is online, digital, trackable and partly automated, from marketing profiling on Facebook, to student selection, trial periods, enrollment, e-learning and working online for clients on freelance projects.
2. RE-BUNDLING WORK AND EDUCATION: CodersTrust provides an integrated “Learn & Earn” approach, with the ability to earn from day one instead of incurring debt over a seven year university degree and then repaying it over a 30 year corporate career. The freelance market consists of small “gigs” and “projects”, so students can essentially work from day one and are still able to flexibly study. This reduces the required investment and the amount of time before the student becomes “cashflow positive”.
3. ONLINE REPUTATION AS COLLATERAL. Everything is focused on building an online reputation for the student, with customer ratings and reviews as an asset for increasing returns, ensuring both a collateral to be confiscated and an incentive for students to keep working on their freelance profile and to repay the 10% commission to investors.
This financial platform could potentially be the world’s biggest investment market, since “human capital” represents over 90% of the world’s wealth, while equity/stocks only account for around 2%. So even if only 2% of the global workforce was “investable”, the market for funding students would be bigger than the common stock market. Furthermore, it could restructure the educational system as we know it from the industrial age in three fundamental ways, as described below.
It reduces the risk for students, improves information and decision-making regarding the value of education and it increases competition between educational course providers. In this environment, education will become more efficient and the economic value of different courses compared to the cost will become more transparent. The student will get a much clearer picture of the potential of investing his or her time, as well as the investor’s money, on a particular education. There are more than 100,000 courses available in over 100 online educational marketplaces, including Udemy, Teachable, Lynda, Skillshare, Coursera and Pluralsight — but besides being too expensive for a lot of students, there is currently no way to estimate the expected return from an investment in these online courses. Increased transparency would result in more competition between online course providers, and students would benefit from lower relative costs and the incentive to pursue higher future earning opportunities.
Finally, the shared equity financing model promotes equality of opportunity for underprivileged, disconnected and remote workers in every corner of the world and addresses the ultimate source of global income inequalities without any downsides, such as limiting competition or distorting incentives.
So join the world of young belivers and visit invest.coderstrust.com to invest in freelance coders now.