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There are plenty of exciting entrepreneurs in Africa trying to kickstart education systems through affordable education, interactive games, online content and digital career discovery platforms. That level of entrepreneurship is being matched by interest from international investors. One such investor, Pearson, recently concluded its Edupreneurship Programme — an attempt to help these startups scale effectively.
Two of the continent’s top edupreneurs — Tanzanian-based, Ubongo, and Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools from Nigeria — were awarded by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund and Village Capital, and supported by the Omidyar Network and Center for Education Innovations. Each company received US$75 000 (nearly R870 000).
First conceived in India and a first for Sub-Saharan Africa recently, the programme ran through workshops for four months covering mentorship, common business and investor practices.
The fund was launched in July 2012 with US$15 million of initial Pearson capital and invests in private companies committed to innovative approaches and improving learning outcomes for the poorest families in the world.
More specifically, the Village Capital model helps to turn entrepreneurs into investment professionals.
Ubongo creates entertainment for African learners using cartoons on television and an interactive SMS channel, among other methods. The social enterprise’s Ubongo Kids teaches math and science through animated stories and catchy songs. The content boasts an audience of over a million kids across East Africa.
Nigeria’s Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools is a low-cost private school chain that introduces an all-inclusive fee sctructure and flexible payment system for low-income families. The chain will open up two schools in 2015 with the hope of reaching 1 000 pupils by 2016.
The chosen companies are addressing a myriad of challenges ranging from access to primary education, receipt of quality early childhood care in Kenya, reduction of dropout rates for higher education, provision of skills development for unemployed youth, to the creation of edutainment to engage young, curious minds and more.
Other notable participants in the programme include the following: Asawin, Bambisa, Daptio, Funda Online, Kidigo, Learning Horizon, MeaOpus, Open Futures Education, Shule Direct Tanzania, Syafunda and Tutor.ng.