The impact that mothers have on our lives is immeasurable. This couldn’t be more true for Belva Devara, co-founder and CEO of Ruangguru – one of the biggest edtech companies in Southeast Asia, making education accessible for children, regardless of income status or geographical location.
In an interview with Ruangguru’s investors, Jixun Foo and Dimitra Taslim, Belva shares the backstory behind why he started Ruangguru and what fuelled his mission to revolutionise the education landscape today.
From humble beginnings: Belva’s childhood
Belva’s childhood was far from lavish. Growing up on the outskirts of Jakarta, his family led a simple life. Despite limited financial resources, his parents made one thing clear: quality education was non-negotiable. To provide that, his parents, especially his mother, made significant sacrifices to ensure their kids got the best education possible.
From time to time, Belva’s family faced financial difficulties, but his mother would always find a way. Even if they only had enough money for the registration fee for a class, she would still sign her children up and pray that they would have enough for subsequent payments eventually.
Beyond financial restraints, the distance between their home and tuition centres was another hurdle. At one point, Belva’s mother travelled back and forth 18 times to accompany her kids to their tuition lessons. At night, the sheer exhaustion would reduce her to tears.
Belva’s mission for accessible education
Witnessing his mother’s sacrifices growing up, Belva made it his mission to make quality education accessible to all.
Eternally grateful to have parents who would give everything to provide that to their children, he says:
“I think I’m a living example of why and how education can change a life.”
According to Belva, every kid, no matter where they live or their income status, should have access to quality education. With this goal, Belva started Ruangguru alongside his co-founder, Iman Usman. He likens Ruangguru to “the Netflix for education”, where students can subscribe at an affordable price and learn from anywhere with access to personalised, interactive learning materials and exam preparation support.
How Ruangguru is transforming the education landscape in Southeast Asia
Unfortunately, Belva and his family’s struggles are not unique, as education inequality remains a problem that plagues families in Indonesia. For instance, much of the rural population in Indonesia has limited or no access to formal education. While it’ll take tremendous efforts to solve this complex issue, digital technology is helping to bridge this gap, with edtech seeing increased adoption in emerging economies.
Ruangguru is at the forefront of this progress. Today, the online learning platform serves more than 40 million students across K-12 and professional, life-long learning segments and is accessed more than 2 billion times a year. Beyond these numbers, 70% of Ruangguru’s students claimed that their experience with the platform was their first time studying outside of school. Previously, these students did not have access to additional lessons or resources. In addition, 70% of the students live outside of tier-one cities, which shows how the platform reaches out to people who would otherwise have no alternatives.
The power of a mother’s love
Belva’s journey to starting Ruangguru is a testament to how a mother’s love and sacrifice can impact one’s life. Through Ruangguru, the legacy of his mother’s love is continued, with millions of students in the region benefitting from accessible education through tech. As we celebrate this special day, we recognise and honour the impact mothers out there are making.