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Learn: Expanding opportunities for Costa Rican students through free English tutoring

BizWorld launched its summer cohort of the exciting, life-changing YES! Program where high potential young entrepreneurs create and develop thriving businesses. YES! builds confidence and breaks down barriers to propel youth businesses to success.

We had a chance to interview Learns’ CEO’s, Miranda and Valentina, two passionate and altruistic students who want to broaden job opportunities for Costa Rican students by providing free English tutoring. We asked Miranda and Valentina some questions so we could learn more about their App and hear what inspired them to start Learn.

Tell me a little bit about your company and what interested you in starting Learn?

Learn is a platform where students teach students. Its purpose is to educate the future workforce by giving students the opportunity of an elevated global education. Learn offers this by connecting students who know fluent English and want to do service teaching, to students who do not know English and would like to learn.

We decided to start Learn when we learned from La Nación- an Argentinian newspaper- that in 2014, 85% of students who graduated in Costa Rica didn’t speak English. We knew that this had to be fixed because in Costa Rica and around the world, you will have broader job opportunities if you speak English. We noticed that many students in rural areas were not receiving extra English tutoring. Therefore, we designed Learn as a way to ensure the opportunity to learn English reaches every student in Costa Rica.

What do you hope to learn and get out of the Yes! Program?

We hope to be able to develop our app, but more importantly we want to look at our business from different points of view and challenge our ideas as much as possible with the help of our mentor Michele Hanson.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Learn is about learning and in 5 years, we hope to have expanded to other countries and subjects. We aspire to be a profitable business and be able to reinvest in Learn to make the platform better and have it reach other student demographics. Additionally, since we are educating the future workforce, we want to be able to connect them with job positions where they can use their new skill set. Lastly, we also want to have a peer program between countries where we connect students who are learning opposite things such as English and Spanish and have them practice together.

How did you guys become business partners?

As business partners we have embarked on a number of different projects and of those projects, two specifically come to mind when asked about our previous ‘business’ endeavours. The year we met, Valentina, at the time in fifth grade, was throwing a bingo party to help children in poverty. After seeing Valentina and her friend in the newspaper, the Shark Tank obsessed third grader Miranda, offered her help with the bingo. Needless to say the bingo was extremely successful, and a handful of lucky players received beautiful trips to the destination of their choice courtesy of Delta airlines sponsoring part of the event. Other big businesses, such as Marriott, also sponsored the event. All that hard work was worth it when we were told that we had raised almost two thousand dollars. Soon after we became close friends and embarked in many more projects including the following: a kombucha tea bar that sadly did not get through the first stage of development, a franchise of nitrogen ice cream that also did not make it very far, and many more failed attempts to start ‘business’ (most of which still have saved business plans, detailed budgets, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and ‘accurate’ expected returns on each project in our shared google drive folder). After 7 years, we are now in middle school and high school and have decided to take on more feasible projects that would still improve the world. At her school, Miranda decided it would be a good idea to create a culture club, an afterschool club where young students are taught about culture in fun and creative ways. Miranda decided it would be a good idea to tell Valentina to start it at her own school as a branch of the Lincoln School Culture Club. After some time and hard work with the other co-founders, we managed to make the Culture Club an international after school club. Additionally, we have created and taken up major roles in small businesses such as designing and selling T-shirts. In January of this year, we decided to put our business plan experience to good use and started drafting a plan. After a few sleepovers and even more reading breaks, we were ready to start improving the world with our roles as co-founder and CEO’s of the Learn platform. As Chief executive officers, we will devote as much time as possible to this project in order to accomplish its goals. We will take on the roles of managing the project and making sure that the timeline is being followed and the goals are met during the expected time.

Who is your role model and why?

Miranda: My role model is Tracy Edwards. Tracy Edwards is a British sailor who put together and skippered the first all female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race. Additionally, she was the first woman to receive the Yachtsman of the Year award and was also awarded an MBE. Through hard work and determination , she achieved her goals and made a positive change in the world. I admire her leadership skills and her ability to follow her dreams, even though everyone told her she wouldn't be able to do it.

Valentina: Although it might be kind of basic, my role model is my mom. My mom has been such an important person in my life and has shown me everything there is to know. Additionally, she's encouraged me to develop my entrepreneur side and has helped me with all my business endeavors. She's taught me about empowerment and the importance of empowering yourself so you can accomplish your goals.

If you were choosing a new language to learn, what language would it be?

Miranda: If I had to learn a new language I would learn Portuguese. I have always thought that it is a beautiful language. I currently speak Spanish and English. I am also learning French, German, Latin, and Greek.

Valentina: If I had to learn a new language it would be Portuguese however, I'm currently learning Italian and loving it.

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