Shawn Lim
Mar 11, 2024

APAC adtech veterans come together to further education efforts in Nepal

Formed by a group of friends in the advertising and technology industries, Team Dayā's mission is to broaden access to education by constructing primary schools in some of the poorest regions globally—with this month's efforts focused on a remote community in Nepal's Terai (the lowlands).

APAC adtech veterans come together to further education efforts in Nepal

Team Dayā (the Nepali word for kindness), a volunteer group established in 2018 by friends in the advertising and technology sectors, has dedicated itself to constructing primary schools in the world's poorest areas, with their inaugural educational initiative commencing in Nepal during the autumn of 2019. Their mission is to enhance the well-being of both girls and boys, along with their families.

This month, they will return to Nepal for the first time since the pandemic, with their upcoming project being their second in the country, and the sixth school overall that the team has committed to building. Construction of the school is set to start on March 17, with members gathering in Kathmandu.

Spearheading the efforts are a group of 10—led by Jay Sears, who spent time at Rubicon Project (before it was acquired by Magnite), Mastercard, and Contextweb. There will also be members from Asia Pacific inclduing Michel De Rjik, former chief executive for Asia Pacific at S4 Capital, and Purwa Jain, former managing director of product growth at Anymind Group. 

As part of their endeavours, Team Dayā’s members personally cover all their related costs, including travel through extensive advocacy and fundraising efforts. Erecting a school from the ground up requires more than $40,000, covering everything from construction materials to skilled labour, facilitated through Team Dayā's collaboration with its NGO partner, BuildOn. Support for Team Dayā's cause also comes from a broad network of individual donors from the adtech industry and corporate sponsors such as The Trade Desk and U of Digital. 

Ahead of their trip, Campaign caught up with Sears, De Rjik and Jain to find out their motivations behind joining the team, the impact of this ongoing project, and what they hope to achieve in 2024.

Jay Sears, founder of Team Daya and was previously a senior vice president at Mastercard

Much like any other startup enterprise, when Team Dayā began in 2018, we had no idea what response we would receive.  

Our project in Nepal this March will be our sixth school construction project, with two more projects later this year in Senegal and Guatemala. We have received over 1,000 supporters, including executives, founders, and CEOs from the ad tech industry. 

My experience as a student in Nepal 36 years ago has been elemental in my understanding of the developing world and the remarkable opportunity each of us has to impact these communities profoundly. We are each capable of Building Change. 

These are very remote communities with high rates of illiteracy and poverty. The school buildings are only constructed when there is a genuine partnership. The community must provide all unskilled labour for the two-to-four-month project, make any local resources available, such as sand, river rock or bricks, and agree to equal school access for both girls and boys. The local education authorities must agree to staff the school with teachers, and our nonprofit partner's in-country staff provides all the skilled labour from engineers to bricklayers. 

The result is a community with actual ownership and a school building that serves as an anchor in the community with positive effects on students and families. You can see our role is essential, but it is only part of the puzzle in providing this vital resource. 

To enable our '24 Nepal team to be successful in their fundraising efforts—please consider supporting our team members travelling to Nepal. All funds go directly to school buildings—and this is a terrific way to celebrate shared values around education, empowering girls and boys and building essential economic infrastructure in developing countries. Second, the work in the country has so many logistics it is head-spinning. We are fortunate to have terrific in-country experts to support our time there and the whole school construction. 

The success starts with a development methodology based on the partnership between the community, education authorities, our nonprofit partner and Team Dayā. All the partners must be ready and committed before there is a go-ahead. After delivery, you are looking at the number of students attending and those regularly attending and the full and equal access to girls and boys. 

Our Team Dayā members and supporters are mainly from the advertising and technology sector, and as a result, we understand marketing and storytelling. These skills are essential when driving change and inspiring others to do the same. I often tell the story of the covenant signing. 

In each community, we all come together to sign a covenant—and agreement—on the school construction. Residents line up, and a stamp pad is next to the signature sheet.  

Many adults press their thumb into the pad and leave their fingerprints on the signature sheet. They do this because they are illiterate and cannot read or write. The following day, you are at the school construction site, next to that mother or father, digging the school's foundation that will educate their daughter or son. 

That is the miracle of real change driven in partnership between Team Dayā, its financial supporters and the people of these remarkable communities worldwide. 

Michel De Rjik, former chief executive for Asia Pacific at S4 Capital

Regardless of anyone's background, whether in adtech/marketing services in my case or leadership, my contribution to Team Dayā comes from a sense of responsibility as a father of two girls and (I hope to be) a sensible and responsible human being.  

I realised a while ago that I've been living too much in my cocoon of realism, focusing on work and a small group of people around me. When the pandemic hit Asia hard, and I got more exposed to the real suffering in countries like India and China, I got woken up, and the only way to make a real difference is to bring in action yourself, so that's what I'm doing in Nepal with Team Dayā. 

I have known Jay for many years, and some of my closest friends have joined Team Dayā on previous trips, but participation has been very US-centric, while the schools we are building are global. So, by actively announcing my involvement and fundraising, I thankfully managed to get an APAC group to join Team Dayā on the different trips, with Purwa joining us on this one to Nepal; exciting times! 

Technology is critical in education and will help children leapfrog their development and close the gap between them and other children who've had a more stable educational journey. Technology will give the most remote people access to the world and help fulfil their hunger for information, combining that with a school where they can come together and thrive. Our most tremendous success is that 20 years from now, some of the children we have helped with at our schools have become the world's true innovators. 

While a part of the world is trying to survive on $1-2 per day and feed their family, the adtech industry has been talking about the death of a cookie, the irony. I want more participation from APAC-based people in any industry.  

If people cannot participate in the school-building activities, hopefully, they can be generous with donations, as it makes a difference. The more participation we have, the more locations worldwide we can build schools and bring education to children and a real chance of a future. 

Purwa Jain, former managing director of product growth at Anymind Group


Growing up in a family of three daughters, we faced societal pressures that often discouraged girls' education. However, my parents, through their determination and boldness, fought against these norms to ensure that we received the best possible education. Joining Team Dayā is a natural extension of my journey. Inspired by my parents' courage and driven by the impact education has had on my life, I am committed to ensuring that every child, regardless of their background, receives the gift of education.  

Drawing from my background in the adtech industry, where I specialised in crafting campaigns that seamlessly blend creativity and strategic insight to resonate with diverse audiences, I bring a distinct perspective to Team Dayā. Through my journey, I've cultivated a profound belief in the power of creativity to leave a lasting imprint and enhance brand visibility. 

Moreover, my immersion in the vibrant dance community of Bollywood during my time in India provided firsthand insight into the tangible impact of artistic endeavours on societal betterment. Observing the 'Art for Good' ethos in action, I witnessed how creative expression could catalyse positive transformation. It is this ethos that I am committed to infusing into Team Dayā's endeavours.  

In driving support for Team Dayā's school-building projects, I leverage my professional networks within the ad tech industry to secure financial contributions. Concurrently, I am leveraging my affiliations within the artistic community, including dot painting artists, dancers, and digital artists, to orchestrate some fundraising endeavours. By unifying these distinct spheres, we aim to be building change! 

Having grown up in India, I've witnessed firsthand the challenges girls face in traditional societies, where cultural norms often prioritise boys' education or confine girls to domestic roles. The adage "educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community" underscores the transformative impact of girls' education. Team Dayā's efforts to impart education through primary schools break down barriers and pave the way for societal progress. 

My inspiration to join Team Dayā was sparked after coming across a post from Michel on LinkedIn, followed by witnessing the global, impactful work they've been doing. I'm driven to expand the team's presence in the APAC region and contribute to building more schools. 

You can support Team Dayā's efforts here.

Campaign Asia

Related Articles

Just Published

8 hours ago

‘Creators are the new Hollywood,’ declares YouTube ...

Neal Mohan discussed how creators are driving growth in YouTube viewing on connected TV as part of the platform’s creator-heavy pitch during upfronts week.

8 hours ago

Whisper unveils new phase of #KeepGirlsInSchool to ...

The latest poignant film seeks to normalise periods as healthy changes, empowering young girls to reshape their narratives around puberty.

9 hours ago

IAS launches 'Election Lab' to help marketers ...

With major political events, marketers must be wary of a rise in news-related misinformation and risky content to protect brand reputation.

9 hours ago

Google is fully embracing its AI era

Tech giant’s AI model Gemini will soon allow users to interact with it across Gmail and mobile apps, including a live voice chat feature and several multimodal advancements.