SME builds online systems tailor-made for schools

Jared Mwanduka.

Learnsoft Beliotech Solutions CEO Jared Mwanduka.

Photo credit: Pool

Even before graduating from Kenyatta University where he studied Computer Science, specialising in software development, Jared Mwanduka had already developed an automation system targeting schools.

His target then was secondary schools, but he lacked the market to sell the software, there is also the fact that he had not tested it in a real environment.

Fortunately, he was introduced to the principal of a school in Mwingi, Kitui County, by a friend who had started teaching there.  It turned out that the school needed the system.

“That was my first sale, I sold it for Sh30,000, and although it was a big challenge, I managed to refine the system bit by bit until it worked for them,” he says.

Excited, he posted some of the screenshots of the system on his social media platforms, which got him his second client, Muvitha Mixed Secondary School in Kitui. That marked the gradual growth of his business. Mwanduka explains that he got into the ICT space through a series of trials.

Although he was sure he had the skills to build systems which solve real problems in the society, getting to convince people to buy the solutions was not easy.

After freelancing for some time, he worked with System Partners Limited as software engineer for a year, in 2017. A year later in 2018, he was engaged by Coseke Kenya, an information technology company that deals with business automation and content management solutions, as a software engineer.

“My career growth in skills and personality has been a consistent one, opening more opportunities and recognition. In Coseke, I stared as a junior Software Engineer, grew to Senior Engineer and now I am a technical manager,” he says.

That same year, he started his company, Learnsoft Beliotech Solutions.

“We have since grown from one to 22 employees who include techies, experts in technology and computing and marketers, all working together to meet the needs of our clients,” says Mwanduka.

One of the products offered by the company is the LearnsoftERP. This is an Enterprise Resource Planning System for schools.

Mwanduka explains that the product was developed with the school processes in Kenya in mind, and the skills of the end user as well as considerations of the level of internet connectivity.

“LearnsoftERP is very simple and robust and allows flexibility for adoption and growth. It handles the whole process of students’ admission, examinations management, finance management, payrolls management and has ready Application Programming Interfaces for integrations where need be, with our bulk SMS module for sending and communicating to parents, teachers and stakeholders,” he adds.

The system has different profiles for allowing user access, just like any other system, giving different permissions and access rights to teachers, finance officers and others.

The process starts by feeding student data into the system, including the primary fields such as admission numbers which are important for identification.

“The admission module handles all information related to the student and guardian. Since the admission module is the point of reference for all other modules, it is the first point of making sure there are no errors,” says Mwanduka.

Examinations module handles the examinations and assessments management. Teachers are only required to feed the data, while the system makes the necessary conversions, analysis and transformation to generate the report cards, merit list analysis and any other related report.

This solves the manual, tedious and prone to error process of generating those reports.

“Our research indicated that teachers could spend close to four days analsying the results before we introduced the system, but now it takes minutes.”

Short Message Services

Additionally, the system automatically grades all students, assigns the respective grades and comments, making the work of the class teacher as easy as just appending a stamp on the card.

In a case where the school has bulk Short Message Services, one simply clicks a button that sends the results to the parent.

“Before the student hands over the hard copy to the guardian, they already have the results in their phone,” adds Mwanduka.

The finance module ensures all fees are paid and recorded, easing the bulk of work involved in accounting and bookkeeping.

So far, the company has 104 schools in 33 counties, in their portfolio.

“Based on the pattern of our growth, we can serve between 15 and 30 clients in a month. Pricing depends on the modules requested by the client, and whether the system is on the premises or on cloud. On average, the system sells at a cost of between Sh45,000 and Sh200,000,” explains Mwanduka.

He is happy with the progress his company has made, so much so, he is now eyeing other countries in the region. He is making good progress here too.

“Our Sacco solution has been accepted in Ghana and Uganda, and we already have a ready market in Uganda for the LearnsoftERP,” he says.

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