Solution Overview

Solution Name


One-line solution summary.

ZNotes fosters a community-led online learning platform with a global reach; allowing students to maximise their potential with unlimited access to the highest-quality education - for students, by students.

Elevator pitch

What is your solution?

Our vision with ZNotes is to end educational inequality everywhere. ZNotes enables students to maximise their potential with unlimited access to high-quality education.

We aim to accelerate our mission through:

  • Consice revision notes: syllabus-specific revision notes written for students, by students. 
  • Live learning experiences: through ZNotes Live we offer a platform for leaders and pioneers in academia, entrepreneurship and sustainability across the globe to equip students with the skills and knowledge to change the world.

  • Live podcasts: offers insight into potential careers, different university experiences and building businesses from experts around the world. 

  • Student-led newsletters: provide a platform for our community to share their learning experiences. 

  • Peer-to-peer learning space: through subject channels and group sessions on our Discord, the  ZNotes learning community connects students globally, allowing them to share, explore, learn and grow through supporting each other. 

ZNotes’s bespoke technological solution provides a robust infrastructure that combines multiple educational features and personalisation aspects to learners while being highly scalable. By leveraging technology and through empowerment of learners, the model is a cost-effective and impactful way to improve academic outcomes and make a positive social impact.

What specific problem are you trying to solve?

Students all over the world take the same international examinations but face entirely uneven educational experiences. In the UK, a child from a disadvantaged background is 18 months behind when they take their GCSEs (Education Policy Institute, 2019). And internationally, in low-income countries, 46% of the resources went to the top 10% of students with the highest levels of education (UNICEF, 2020). Private tuition, underfunded schools, oversized classrooms, and unequal distribution of resources create massive barriers to attainment. And if you live in a developing nation where the education system is under-resourced, these inequalities are further exacerbated. Suddenly, this formal exam system is an incredibly unfair playing field.

The accessibility of education underpins many exacerbating inequalities. International qualifications at the end of high school are pivotal to the opportunities that can be accessed and trajectories to be followed. For many, it is the only possibility for them to apply for scholarships and universities abroad. There is an increasing demand for pursuing international qualifications and according to Forbes (2021), the international schools market will hit $89bn by 2026.

Who does your solution serve? In what ways will the solution impact their lives?

By providing access to the resources and support needed to complete English-medium international high school qualifications, we enable access to education particularly for those who may be left behind. This may be due to unrecognised/weak national education systems or those displaced from their home countries in the current global crises and having to pursue alternative curriculums. 

The success of ZNotes in the international space has been due to the insider knowledge that the founding team possessed. Even though we have reached over 3 million learners, it is still a small proportion considering the 1+ billion students heading to school each day. To make an exponential impact requires a radical method of implementing the student-led ZNotes model at a global scale. Another important aspect is that the impact realised is seen in both the users accessing the content as well as those creating it. The latter have deeper exposure to entrepreneurial skills and a global change-making attitude. In the sample of past ZNotes interns, we’ve seen outcomes such as receiving scholarships to top universities, launching start-ups and leap-frogging career trajectories. Though this sample is relatively smaller than total users, the impact is vast and therefore critical to allow more young people to be involved in running youth-led initiatives. 

What steps have you taken to understand the needs of the population you want to serve?

ZNotes started in 2014 with the realization that hundreds of thousands of students took the same exam, yet the quality of education everyone received and how they performed on the test varied greatly due to differences in socioeconomic factors. From starting out as a blog, ZNotes has now become a global organisation supporting students all around the work. Being a community-led platform, we are directly in contact with our users with the help of Discord and our Social Media Handles. We receive instant feedback from our userbase and strive to further improve our offerings.  As ZNotes is  “For students, By students”, our resources are all produced by student contributors and team members who themselves have been our users in the past. Our resources inspire our users so much that they volunteer to produce academic resources and, this is the reason behind our exponential growth. 

Which aspects of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Improving learning opportunities and outcomes for learners across their lifetimes, from early childhood on (Learning)

Our solution's stage of development:

Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to grow significantly, focusing on increased efficiency

Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution—in other words, what have you accomplished to date?

With a large userbase, we are strengthening our platform with its intrinsic self-organised community-led infrastructure. Our reach has been purely organic with students benefiting from the platform without any push from parents or teachers. 

To date, we have reached:

  • 24,604,523 hits and 3,383,743 visitors on the ZNotes website

  • 87,489 registered users since launching our new platform in September 2020

  • 10,637 Discord members engaging in peer-to-peer learning

Though the pandemic and lockdown has been an extremely difficult time, we have been able to maximise our efforts and achieve our biggest milestones:

  1. After 3 years of development and bootstrapping, we re-launched the ZNotes platform in June 2020 on a completely bespoke system specifically designed to cater to our offerings and personalised for each learner.

  2. We were accepted onto the inaugural Facebook Community Accelerator, with Zubair being the youngest participant across all cohorts. We received mentorship from Founder’s Intelligence, $3000 FB Ad Credit and $30,000 grant funding.

  3. We redesigned our organisational structure and made robust frameworks for operations. Our team has grown to over almost 30 across 5 subteams.

  4. We published our first-ever impact report in 2020. See

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

London, UK

Team Lead:

Zubair Junjunia

More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new project or business that relies on technology to be successful

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

We have invested countless hours in developing a bespoke technological solution that provides a robust infrastructure that combines multiple educational features and personalisation aspects to learners while being highly scalable. This includes the development and advancement of new features on our platform such as enabling users to tag relevant resources to the revision notes from various sources on the internet. This builds a categorised and handpicked resource bank for other students to learn from. In addition to this, the content contribution process has become more seamless in that contributors are given access to change/update notes directly on the online learning platform.

Moving from a historically static website to a dynamic and accessible learning platform, we converted all our content from PDFs into a raw, markdown format stored in globally distributed databases. In the last few months, we have also decoupled our front-end and back-end technologies so each runs independently. This means that our infrastructure allows us to develop alternate applications and software that can make API calls to retrieve ZNotes content. 

To truly tackle the challenge of educational inequality, it is critical that our support is available to every segment of the global population. We are in a strong and technologically stable position to start the development of a low-bandwidth, lightweight and legacy-friendly mobile application to access educational content offline. By partnering with organizations that are working specifically in these communities, we can accelerate our impact and reach. 

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Software and Mobile Applications

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Zimbabwe

How many people does your solution currently serve, and how many do you plan to serve in the next year? If you haven’t yet launched your solution, tell us how many people you plan to serve in the next year.

In the next 12 months, we will continuously monitor the progress of our latest initiatives and determine which ones to continue developing further. To date, we have 87,489 registered users since launching our new platform in September 2020. Taking into account the challenges of Covid-19, our target is to have 500,000 registered users and to strengthen our offerings for the IB and Edexcel exam boards with at least the core subjects on offer.

What are your impact goals for the next year, and how will you achieve them?

With the changing landscape of international education and assessments, it is imperative for us to be more attached to our philosophy than a specific offering. As such, over the next five years, we aim to continue to strengthen our platform with its intrinsic self-organised community-led infrastructure. This means we will continue to work alongside our community to build features and form novel resource types for our users to contribute towards. 

We envision being the one-stop destination for students at every level pursuing formal examinations and looking for resources and community to support them.

To achieve our social mission, we must continue to expand our reach and provide further support to each of our learners. Our strategy to increase the support of new exams and subjects is by partnering with NGOs and schools in specific education systems and leveraging their high-achieving student base to write and grow the content. We have been able to increase our capacity for content development by having a bespoke technological platform catering to our needs, a robust process of application induction and moderation, and a growing team of interns who support this operation. 

In the long term, ZNotes will have steady revenue streams through licensing and sponsorships. To further personalise the revision experience, a system will be integrated to identify profiles and suggest improved materials and learning methods. We will also continue to expand our notes content by including more international exam boards and subjects to make our platform more inclusive for students globally. 

How are you measuring your progress or planning to measure your progress toward your impact goals?

We critically assess the impact our offerings have had. This includes academic progress, social capital redistribution and the development of global change-making attitude and entrepreneurial spirit. We have increasing levels of influence on those involved with ZNotes from the website visitors to those who contribute and become team members. We expect a certain level of commitment from our interns and so it is imperative that they receive a highly educational and rewarding experience during their time with us. We monitor the development and progress of each influence sphere through pre and post surveying. 

Our Social Impact Analyst maintains a metrics dashboard on Notion that include 30 unique processes and reach metrics. This dashboard makes sure we are maintaining and increasing our growth rate as well as keeping all of our team members engaged and motivated.  In addition, we receive feedback on specific events through feedback forms that we disseminate. Finally, we receive testimonials in the form of text and video on the community and the impact of resources on individual educational outcomes. 

We are currently developing the ZNotes theory of change model, validated through pre-and post-surveys run on the Discord server followed by the development of an API that allows for the corpus to be fielded and tagged in the academic subject channels. We have achieved partner status on our server with more than 10,000 members and this would be the space to explore further questions on self-organised learning communities.

What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year?

After receiving 30,000 USD grant funding from Facebook, we managed to rapidly improve our software and cover the expenses for experiments. However, it also made us realize the necessity of being financially sustainable to be able to innovate and deliver the very best possible service. Historically, ZNotes has been financed with advertising on the website. With our high traffic, this was able to cover our hosting costs. Currently, in addition to some ad revenue, we are relying on a grant fund we received from Global Giving and credits from Amazon supporting our web hosting costs.  The biggest challenge we are facing right now is to remain financially sustainable while keeping all our offerings freely accessible to all.

About Your Team

How many people work on your solution team?

1 Full time employee and around 30 part-time volunteer interns

How long have you been working on your solution?

8 years

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

ZNotes began with a single student’s revision notes and efforts to run the website, to now having 100 contributors and a team of 30 volunteers who support the day to day activities. 

The reason for the exponential growth of ZNotes has been the empowerment of youth and taking a community-led approach. As such, each team member is able to contribute to the decision and direction of the organization whether it is through setting up initiatives, sharing their ideas across teams in our regular town hall meetings.

The organisation has evolved into 5 subteams each with their own lead: content, community, tech, growth and outreach each of which has a robust support structure including regular check-ins, a knowledge base of tutorials and a culture book to induct new team members. Further, the Leadership Team is comprised of the CEO, COO and CSO. 

  • Zubair Junjunia - CEO: Diana Legacy Award 2021 Winner and UCL graduate.

  • Oliver Dunnet - COO: Studying Economics and Management at the University of Oxford.

  • Maimoona Junjunia - CSO: Studying Business Management at KCL.

The advisory board is made up of past team members who have deep knowledge of the workings of ZNotes and leaders of other youth-led projects and social impact start-ups. The board meets every 2 months and is attended by the  CEO,  COO  and  CSO.  This group of people provide a space and critical advice to ensure the projects initiated in the organisation are aligned to the mission and end up successful.

The CEO, Zubair is also the chairman of the ZNotes Foundation board which meet on a quarterly basis. This board is made up of professionals in the fields of education,  law, accounting, and ensure that the legal obligations of the organisation are met. 

What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

We have achieved partner status on our Discord server with more than 11,000 members and this would be the space to explore further questions on self-organised learning communities.

We are currently in discussion with Buffalo Grid; a startup that is developing technology to make knowledge accessible to the most unconnected parts of the world in East Africa and the Middle-East. Through this partnership, we are hoping to bring our content available to help those beyond the digital divide and truly embody our mission of addressing inequalities. 

An ongoing partnership we have is with UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC), engaging with their youth strategy. Specifically, by running focus group discussions to gather insights and engaging with their in-person events,

In the past, we have also worked with STEM UK, UN75 and One Young World.

Your Business Model & Resources

Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The HP Girls Save the World Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.


Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Pozen Social Innovation Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.


Solution Team

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