QS Scholarship Winner: Making Education Available to the Masses

Alykhan Madhavji

QS MBA scholarship winner Aly Madhavji’s passion for education and his determination to make it accessible to as many people as possible is shaped by his family history. His father only managed to complete third grade before he was forced to flee from his home during the upheaval that afflicted Uganda and Kenya in the 1970s. Since then, Aly’s father has impressed the importance of education upon him.


This paternal guidance inspired Aly to pursue a life centered on giving back to others and helping those around him. In light of these achievements, QS has awarded Aly a Community Scholarship prize, worth US$2,000. This will be used to assist Aly during his next venture in life – studying an MBA at INSEAD.

“I am convinced that education is the equalizer of opportunity for many individuals,” he says, “and is a tremendous force for good in every society.” Aly’s conviction in this belief has led him to undertake some inspiring projects during his lifetime. At the age of just five, he began fundraising for World Partnership Walk – Canada's largest annual event raising money and awareness to end global poverty. Aly took part in this walk because he wanted to help communities deliver education to young people in developing countries.

In high school, he mentored and tutored students with learning disabilities, and by the time he reached university, Aly took part in a variety of projects designed to make a difference to his fellow students’ lives.

While enrolled at the University of Toronto, Aly led a student referendum for a levy to help support international refugees hoping to study at the university - to date C$138,000 has been raised. But Aly’s generosity did not end there.

“Studying is an expensive pursuit. What with all the tuition fees, loans and daily living adding up, it’s small wonder that some less-fortunate local students struggle to make ends meet. That is why I decided to set up a second referendum for funding the campus foodbank.”

The foodbank that Aly campaigned for has raised C$69,000 to date. When asked about the feedback he has received from the people he has helped with this venture – he replies quite frankly that he does not know. “It was confidentially run. If a student required foodbank services, they would send an anonymous message asking for help and the student would be provided a locker location and code that they could use to access food.”

“So, you don’t know who the individuals who use it are. The idea is not to create judgement. The reward of helping others is not through recognition of a good deed – it’s through simply knowing you have made a difference to somebody’s life.”

MBA scholarship winner, activist…and author! 

In 2013, Aly also decided to write a book entitled Your Guide to Succeed in University (starting to question your achievements in life yet?). Aly dedicated over 500 hours of his time to writing the book, which he decided to publish entirely for free to ensure that students around the globe could benefit from its content.

“The book helps students with topics such as building a solid foundation in the first few weeks of university, efficient techniques for studying and preparing for exams, getting involved, finding the right mentors, networking, and preparing for a successful career.”

Aly’s book went viral and was rated #1 hottest study aid in Canada in 2014 on iBooks. It was also a #1 college book on Amazon, an award-winning finalist of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards, and an award-winner in the 2015 International Book Awards. Aly says he is extremely humbled by the reaction the book has had since being published.

“I have students telling me on a weekly basis how much the book had helped them. One student in particular told me how she had dropped out of school years ago and never thought she’d go back. However, after she read my book, she was motivated to return to university because it had taught her what she needed to do in order to succeed – so that’s very gratifying to hear.” After implementing Aly’s advice, her grades improved significantly to the A and B grade range.

Why did Aly move on to INSEAD?

So, what was it that inspired Aly to pursue an MBA in the first place? After dedicating so much effort into writing, volunteering, fundraising and keynote speaking, it’s a wonder he had time to even consider such a groundbreaking new path in life.

“I was looking at a number of different options to start with. For me, the big goal was wanting to take on a leadership role where I would also be able to keep my options open in terms of my career – this includes being able to work in the private and public sectors and being able to work in different areas of expertise as well. An MBA equips you with the instruments you need to be a leader across various fields. I believe an MBA could give me the skills to supplement my interest and background in education.”

Aly does not intend to stop working on humanitarian projects just because he has taken up residence at Singapore to study his MBA with INSEAD. On the contrary, he intends to use his MBA to further his ambitions to help others less fortunate than himself.

“I’d like to work directly for intergovernmental organizations or nonprofit organizations that have the stature to improve economic development and education. I would say, overall, my dream is to go and help give back in Sub-Saharan Africa or other parts of the developing world where I could help students achieve their dreams of obtaining education and beyond.”

However, before Aly continues his inspiring philanthropic journey upon graduation, he is excited about embarking on a new chapter of his life in Singapore with his fellow MBA peers.


“I’m really looking forward to studying in Singapore so that I can learn about different cultures and be a part of a diverse network of students” says Aly. “I’m excited about entering an entirely new experience where I can meet great people who will hopefully be likeminded and different – I want people to challenge and push my boundaries forward.”

Helen Vaudrey
Written by Helen Vaudrey

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