Skoll Foundation



Skoll Awardee(s): Jeroo Billimoria
Award Year: 2006
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Economic Opportunity, Education

(Click here to print)

“Acquainting children with the concept of saving and banking is a first structural step that empowers them to handle money responsibly and contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty. What microcredit has brought to adults, the concept of savings can bring to children.”

Sub-Issues: Early Childhood to Primary Education; Financial Services

Half a billion children live in rural poverty. Most have some access to money, at least in small amounts, but they do not know how to manage and save it to achieve goals.

The Skoll Awardee: Aflatoun is a fun-loving and mischievous Bollywood movie character, and also the Arabic name Plato, the Greek philosopher who, among other things, described the ideal concept of citizenship. Jeroo Billimoria created a cartoon character called Aflatoun as a fireball from outer space who inspires children to explore and engage with the world around them by means of activities, stories and games, and teaches them about their rights, and about money. When she founded an international organization to engage children with Aflatoun and financial empowerment around the world, she had already built Child Helpline International, an organization that helps millions of street children each year, starting with just her own telephone number and her personal savings. She had developed the educational program and curriculum for teaching children to take responsibility for themselves, to plan for a better life, and to save through school-based Aflatoun Clubs, through an Indian organization called Meljol, demonstrating that these skills helped children to manage their impulses, work toward future goals, and succeed in school. She founded Aflatoun to apply the same international replication model she had developed at Child Helpline International to Meljol’s child empowerment and financial education and savings program. Aflatoun was just a year old at the time of the Skoll Award, beginning the international growth phase with a goal of reaching a million children within five years. In 2012, Jeroo stepped down as executive director of Aflatoun to focus on another new venture: Child and Youth Finance International, a global advocacy organization working to promote “economic citizenship” among children and young people.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2006:

  • More than 2.3 million children receive social and financial education each year through more than 27,000 education centers in 109 countries.
  • 40 percent of students enrolled in the program save small amounts of money each week, building savings that average €2.23 euros per child per year (€ 2.76 million total).
  • Aflatoun students have launched 5,177 social enterprises and 11,449 financial enterprises.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.