Benje Williams, 2013 Social Innovation Fellow

Teaching Skills to Break the Cycle of Poverty
Co-Founder, Amal Academy

In Pakistan, the educational system focuses on rote memorization and offers little to no training in professional and soft skills meaning that students are leaving high school and college ill-equipped to meet the demands of the professional world.

This skills gap affects both would-be employees and aspiring entrepreneurs, and contributes to a youth under/unemployment rate estimated to be as high as 35%. Thus the country’s educational deficits are perpetuating a cycle of poverty that affects millions of people.

Benje Williams, MBA ’13, has teamed with Kunal Chawla, MA ’13, to form Amal Academy in order to bridge the gap that currently exists between the educational system and the needs of the job market in Pakistan. As one of the country’s first professional-skills enterprises, Amal is leveraging technology to help the disadvantaged find quality employment by providing them with training in business-related skills such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, etiquette, and professionalism.

The enterprise uses innovative pedagogy, quality teachers, peer-to-peer and activity-based learning, and video technology, with the goal of achieving unprecedented impact and scale in Pakistan.