Why we invest: Rootopia - A relief in Vietnamese education costs17/11/2022 Regarding public research on education from The Vietnam National Institute of Educational Sciences (VNIES), the number of students has been increasing in the last ten years. Still, 4.7% of children at the age of 5 have yet gone to school; the rate of educational transferring in students declines, especially from secondary to high school (90% to 69%), regardless of the indicated 80% rate from education strategy 2011-2020. The graduation rate from universities also experienced a downtrend to 11.4% in 2020 compared to 2015.
The inability to afford expenses has emerged as one of the causes of this educational decline. Many families have decided to take a mortgage. However, banks and traditional finance companies show shortages in offering loans, especially for educational expenses.
Acknowledging the circumstance, Rootopia, an ed-fintech startup, is trying to solve this puzzle by providing financial loans for educational demands. In early September, ThinkZone Ventures decided to invest in Rootopia due to its values and the potential it can bring.
Key features from Rootopia.
Rootopia is a potential candidate for supporting the Vietnamese education ecosystem by solving financial demands. The startup introduces a multi-sided platform that receives financial requests from families and, on another end, raises funds for those requests. Eligible requests are the ones that send sufficient proof of study and information on the platform. Families only need to pay interest and service fees in advance, then the remaining balance in installments. As long as providing sufficient proof, students can request credit payments for all study courses, such as CFA, MBA, and art. For students who have yet to earn a stable income, parents will be the ones who register for them. Employees with constant earnings who wish to continue studying can register themselves.
Rootopia is progressing in partnering with public and private institutions from different education levels and tutoring centers to approach more customers. In this sense, education organizations can work directly with Rootopia on payments while eliminating lengthy fee-collecting procedures. It relieves financial burdens for learners and prevents sudden dropouts. Despite its early stage, Rootopia has established connections with over 60 schools. The startup still aims to expand its network to more than ten cities and provinces where parents have long-term plans for their children’s education.
Sharing about the values of Rootopia, Mr. Truong Bomi, Founder & CEO of Rootopia, mentioned: “The fund raised from angel investors will be transferred directly to the institutions, guaranteeing the investment purpose. Although Rootopia is a credit-issue model, the platform is friendly and convenient, leading to a good customer retention rate.”
In the early stage, the loans issued by Rootopia were from angel investors. Each fundraising can consist of more than one investor who exerts the authority to choose the amount of mortgage lent. Rootopia is aiming for bigger shots like enterprises and finance institutions.
The process to apply for financial loans and funds is operated online for convenience and accessibility. Rootopia is currently adopting a credit scoring model, and with the advantage of data management, the application-handling process is lean, guaranteeing a high level of credibility in each deal.
ThinkZone Ventures foresees and is highly interested in the potential of Rootopia to be the leading startup in resolving educational expenses.
Vietnamese families tend to pay tuition and fees in cash. Therefore, the Vietnamese market scarcely adopts financial leverage like student loan models in foreign countries.
Regarding the issue of solving financial expenses in education, banks, and traditional finance organizations, up to now, have made little progress in introducing support packages for tuition fees. The main reasons for this come from the shortage of evaluation and the inability to retrieve loans. Banks are focusing on plans to encourage credit card activation. However, 35-40 million people use bank cards, yet, 10% use credit cards. Finance organizations, on the other hand, slightly focus on the education field, since the loans are small. These companies also have high-interest rates, making households hesitate to take out mortgages. Therefore, the market opportunity for Rootopia is expanding, favoring this ed-fintech startup to be the market leader.
Besides the market opportunity, the morals and ethics behind Rootopia’s work are heart-touching for ThinkZone Ventures.
The income of the Vietnamese labor force is still at a low level. According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the per capita income of Vietnam in 2021 is VND 4.205.000 (under $200) per month, 1.1% lower than in 2020. Meanwhile, each household spends 47% of its income on educational expenses. A dilemma for several families appears since their budgets are limited, while the financial burdens continue to rise (especially for universities having strategies to raise 10% of their tuition fees annually). Many students drop out or postpone their college or grad studies each year. For instance, HCMC University of Food industry reported having 2,500 students prolonging the postponement of their tuition fee payments.
The solution from Rootopia has provided families with flexible liquidity and convenience, easing financial burdens for them. Students can pursue ongoing education and possibly be motivated to be the new “angel investors” to nurture future generations’ dreams - a sustainable circular.
Rootopia’s team capabilities are another criterion influencing ThinkZone Ventures to invest.
The board of directors from Rootopia consists of experienced entrepreneurs in the finance field. They were in Director/Head positions in top finance companies such as Momo, Techcombank, Zalo Pay, and Ernst & Young. Mr. Truong Bomi, Co-founder & CEO of Rootopia, has experience building startups. He is the former CEO of Ahamove, one of the largest Vietnamese on-demand logistic platforms. ThinkZone Ventures believes that with the capabilities and experiences of the board of directors, Rootopia can achieve milestones and go much further.
ThinkZone Ventures is proud to accompany Rootopia in supporting millions of Vietnamese students to earn a better education. More than just financial investment, ThinkZone Ventures committed assistance and growth to Rootopia with resourceful support, local experts network and global venture expansion.