Lars Stein

Ashoka Fellow
Zurich, Switzerland
Fellow Since 2012

Citation

This profile was prepared when Lars Stein was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Lars’ vision is that education is seen as an investment opportunity. He has engineered a selection process that matches private investors and mentors with motivated individuals striving for higher education. His organization, studienaktie.org, facilitates financial support for students through this investor relationship. More importantly, it uses mentoring and coaching to help the investor and investees understand their personal motivations and capacities to contribute to society.

studienaktie.org matches students whom Lars refers to as “aspirants” with mentors and investors through a detailed application procedure focused on self-determination and the aspirant’s long-term goals. Through this intense application and mentoring process, studienaktie.org ensures the aspirant’s develop a nuanced perspective on the purpose of their education. studienaktie.org also approaches investors interested in three particular dimensions of giving: those interested in investing time as mentors, those willing to open up their networks to aspirants, and those wanting to provide the capital to support the aspirants’ education. Financial investors have three options for how to invest in education projects of aspirants based on the investor’s interests and capacities: (i) direct-investment in which the investors own the project due-diligence and selection and personally accompany the aspirant (ii) mandate-investment in which studienaktie.org proposes a selection of appropriate projects and studienaktie.org accompanies the aspirant, and (iii) Co-Investment-Fund in which a donation is made to the non-profit Co-Investment and Stipend-Fund (CIS) of studienaktie.org. The interest remains in the fund is reinvested into new aspirants. studienaktie.org plays a broker role in managing the relationship between investors and students: they search and select for investors and aspirants, make the matches, and act as a bridge in the relationship.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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