E Squared Investments Fuels Zaio’s EdTech Revolution with Strategic Financing for Digital Skills Empowerment

EdTech - Zaio Technologies
E Squared Investments Fuels Zaio Technologies EdTech Revolution with Strategic Financing for Digital Skills Empowerment. Photo:Supplied

E Squared Investments is pleased to announce its investment into  Zaio Technologies, an EdTech platform poised to revolutionise learning in the digital age. 

Founded by a dynamic team of young entrepreneurs, Zaio serves both individual consumers and businesses, offering comprehensive, job-oriented coding training through full-stack and specialised front-end and back-end courses via their online Learning Management System.

The platform delivers customised learning programs for companies to upskill their employees or aid them in running skills development learning programs, focusing on preparing youth for the technological advancements of the digital age.

Acquiring digital skills education poses significant challenges for the average South African youth. With an annual cost of approximately R50,000 for an IT degree, the financial barriers coupled with the need for supplementary resources beyond the curriculum, create an inefficient and disjointed learning experience.

Moreover, non-financial barriers, including limited access to devices and time constraints due to life commitments, further hinder the accessibility of digital education. These systemic challenges contribute to a shortage of competent technical talent among South African youth, limiting their ability to thrive in a digitally-driven world.

The job-oriented training by Zaio bridges access to technology education by offering online, self-paced or bootcamp courses that aim to get students certified IT skills in at least 6 months , with job placements at completion.

The founding team consists of Mvelo Hlophe (CEO), Harjot Singh (CMO), Asif Hassam (Head of Product), and Akhil Boddu (COO), bringing together a wealth of expertise and innovative spirit, supported by 9 other employees.  

“At Zaio, we are acutely aware that education plays a pivotal role in shaping futures and bridging gaps. Our commitment to delivering impactful education and training specifically tailored to the needs of a digitally driven world is more than a business mission—it is a social imperative,” said Mvelo Hlophe, CEO of Zaio. “By equipping African youth with essential skills for the 4th Industrial Revolutio, we are contributing to closing the unemployment gap while also ensuring that our continent is an active participant in the burgeoning global EdTech market, which, according to Holon IQ, is projected to grow to $404 billion by 2025. Zaio is proud to be at the heart of this growth, fostering a skilled workforce ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

The blended learning approach utilised by Zaio combines traditional instructional methods with interactive, hands-on coding exercises and real-world projects, delivering personalised experiences through Zaio’s mobile app, AI Tutor and video-based content for teaching. 

The investment from E Squared Investments is supported by grant funding from Injini EdTech Accelerator, which demonstrates the role of strategic partnerships and collaborations in maximizing the positive impact of investments. 

Brian Masondo, Investment Manager at E Squared Investments, said, “Investing in Zaio was driven by our confidence in the passionate and highly capable founding team that is poised to revolutionise education through technology. Zaio empowers learners by providing them with valuable skills, which will ultimately contribute towards lowering the unemployment rate. The co-investment with Injini also means that we can capitalise on shared resources and collective expertise to foster transformative change and enable long-term success.”

Gladwyn Leeuw, CEO of E Squared Investments, emphasised the contribution of the investment in Zaio in advancing the company’s mission to empower responsible entrepreneurs as catalysts for economic development, transformation, and social upliftment.

E Squared Investments is proud to be part of transforming education technology in Africa through our strategic investment in Zaio. This investment is not just in a company, but in the future of Africa’s demographic dividend. By supporting Zaio, we are addressing digital education’s accessibility and affordability challenges, empowering African youth, and preparing them for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Zaio’s mission to bridge the digital skills gap is a catalyst for economic development, nurturing the architects of Africa’s future. This strategic move is about unlocking Africa’s potential and ensuring it becomes a leading player in the global tech landscape.” said Leeuw.

This strategic funding marks the next phase of our commitment to Zaio’s mission, following our initial pre-seed investment, mentorship, and business support through E Squared’s Pathways programme for Allan Gray Fellows. The additional investment will propel Zaio’s innovative approach to digital skill empowerment for African youth, building on the foundation laid during our earlier support” Leeuw added. 

With accreditation by the MICT SETA, Zaio is able to provide NQF level 5 accredited certificates to students and boasts training of over 300 learners through their accredited course since 2021.

“In response to our research and data analysis, we noticed that many students who come to our platform with an interest in exploring careers in technology do not have access to a laptop. In order to cater to them, we developed a new style of learning through our mobile app (BETA) that is accessible from a phone and designed to help students determine if coding is something they would enjoy before committing to purchasing a laptop. The learning courses on this app are short and informative, provide a quick and easy introduction to the basics of coding, and help learners decide whether or not to further pursue a career in coding.” said Hlophe.

By doing this, we are removing the barriers to entry and helping students make informed decisions about their future. Whether or not students decide to pursue a career in technology, these courses provide a valuable and engaging learning experience that helps them discover their passions and reach their goals. It is also a demonstration of Zaio’s ability and responsiveness to creating seamless, user-friendly learning experience and cater to the evolving market needs.” he added.

“Students who complete our course earn credits that demonstrate their proficiency in building applications for business purposes. This recognition validates the skills they have acquired and makes them more competitive in the job market. Additionally, with the goal of providing even more value to students, we are exploring ways to increase the number of credits awarded without compromising the length of the course. This demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement and a dedication to providing students with the most comprehensive and relevant education possible.” Hlophe added.

For more information about Zaio, visit https://www.zaio.io 

For more information about E Squared Investments visit https://esquared.org.za

Read More: Seizing the Moment: Impact Investing and Technology as a Catalyst for Change

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