Kenyan EdTech receives boost in digital learning solutions

iHub Kenya

iHub Kenya managing partner Nissi Madu (right) and Suraj Shah, (left) the lead at the Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT at Mastercard Foundation during the Demo Day event for the first cohorts of the Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship Programme in Nairobi.

What you need to know:

  • The training is aimed at building the startups’ products with the target of enhancing learning outcomes.
  • The start-ups will continue to receive additional advisory support from iHub for the next 12 months. 

Kenya’s ambitious plan to grow and expand digital learning solutions has received a major boost with the completion of induction of the first cohorts of educational technology startups.

The incubation programme, spearheaded through a partnership between Nairobi-based business incubator, iHub Kenya, and Mastercard Foundation, is aimed at helping startups grow and expand their digital learning solutions offerings.

Speaking during the demo day of the first cohort of the Mastercard Foundation tech fellowship programme, iHub Kenya Managing Partner Nissi Madu said some 12 educational technology (EdTech) startups have been going through accelerator training for the last six months.

Ms Madu said the startups underwent an acceleration programme to enable them to amplify support around products, talents, distribution and funding.

The programme, which began in May, involved advisory support across learning science, investment, product development, financial management, and communication strategy among others. 

The training is aimed at building the startups’ products with the target of enhancing learning outcomes and accelerating access to equitable and quality education for Africa’s next generation.

“The startups have been receiving support around their products, talent distribution and funding with the focus to ensure that they are able to have products that lead to improved learning outcomes and support required to ensure the technology can reach the hands of millions in Kenya,” said Ms Madu.

She added that through the programme, they aim to have the startups receive support to have access to a range of experts, financing, talents and investments.

They are also introduced to investors and distribution partners so that the solutions get to more Kenyans.

“What we are essentially doing is laying that foundation and infrastructure to support them to build effective products and see the products scaled to reach more learners,” she said.

Advisory support

The Demo Day event was an opportunity for the start-ups to highlight their growth in the last six months while in the programme, as well as share their plans with potential investors and customers.

The start-ups will continue to receive additional advisory support from iHub for the next 12 months. 

The participating start-ups in the 2023 cohort of the Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship include Arifu, an interactive learning platform for small businesses and job seekers in Africa; MsingiPack, a self-paced learning content offering; Kidato Inc, an interactive online learning platform for family; and EasyElimu, an online platform providing K-12 learning content and exams prep for students.

The fellowship, which was first announced in February this year, went through a rigorous selection process leading to the selection of the 12 startups.

The start-ups received $100,000 each (Sh15.3 million) in funding to help drive growth and scale up their business.

Ms Madu said the successful firms were required to have an i-tech solution which addresses learning challenges or learning gaps from early learning to working skills in formal, informal or corporate world.  

“They also needed to be at a certain level of revenue attraction and show that they are willing and excited to receive the support needed to amplify and do more than they were already doing and that the solutions can reach a lot more learners across Kenya,” said Ms Madu.

iHub Kenya, which is based in Nairobi, is a globally recognised innovation centre which has been the main catalyst for regional technology acceleration and a role model for tech hubs in emerging markets since 2010.

Through the programme, the startups will be able to provide a range of different solutions that seek to address a range of different challenges. 

One of the solutions that were picked is FunKe Science, which seeks to improve outcomes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects by offering interactive and engaging learning that helps them have a deep understanding of science concepts. 

Edtech solution

It offers online and offline content that makes science fun and relatable for African children.

“The solution makes science education come alive, interactive, engaging and make Stem education understood in-depth,” she said.

Ntemata, a learning management system for teachers to deliver more efficient assessments for students, Angaza Elimu, an adaptive and interactive platform that leverages technology to improve access to quality education on demand and Silabu, a platform which connects students with tutors also benefitted.

Others are Smart Brains Kenya, an Edtech solution focused on empowering schools to independently provide coding and robotics lessons in schools and Longhorn-owned Loho Learning which provides an e-learning platform for personalised and interactive content.

The programme further benefitted Snapplify, an innovative and e-learning solution for e-learning content and materials; and Goomzu by Elewa, an education innovation solution focused on supporting teachers, schools and large training audiences to deliver cost-effective and scalable continuous professional development.

Suraj Shah, the lead at the Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT at Mastercard Foundation, said the fellowship is part of a broader goal of the Mastercard Foundation to support the growth of an impactful African EdTech ecosystem.

He said this will catalyse innovation and advance promising practices in the use of technology in learning and teaching to benefit African learners, education, and EdTech innovators across the continent.

“We believe we can improve access to relevant and quality education by using technology as an enabler. And in that vein, we want to foster locally developed Edtech solutions that can enable learners to not only access education but improve their skills using this technology,” said Mr Shah.

He added that learning outcomes for learners who used the platforms had improved in some instances by as much as a third.

“In this fellowship alone here in Kenya in six months we have seen the 12 Edtech companies come together to reach 32,000 new learners,” he said. “This is just a tip of the iceberg…We will support them for the next two to three years on how they can grow bigger.”