EdTech Ventures in Africa

“I believe we’re about to witness a huge surge in education innovation in Africa, not least in mobile learning. Although 30 million children on the continent miss out on even primary level education, 73% of Africans have access to mobiles phones and young Africans have proven themselves to be some of the world’s most innovative smartphone users. Of course, every child deserves access to a great teacher, but the potential for educational horizons in Africa to be expanded through technology are huge. It’s no surprise then that 10 of our 30 finalists are African, and our hope is that through competing for the Next Billion Prize, the world will see the range of education innovation happening right now on the continent”

– Vikas Pota Group CEO of Tmrw Digital which runs the Next Billion Prize

Edtech companies have begun getting funding, especially in startup hubs in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. In general, however, Edtech innovations lack support – lack of seed funding, technical talent and sales access are major barriers to growth. African entrepreneurs are leading the pack in innovating for education and it’s a great time for investors to notice. Africa is boasting an increasing number of initiatives – some large-scale, some small – using mobile technologies to distribute educational materials, support reading, and enable peer-to-peer learning and remote tutoring through social networking services. Ranging from AI to VR to mobile apps, African Edtech is revolutionising learning across the continent and creating massive opportunities for investments into innovative entrepreneurs and designers developing transformative solutions. Alongside many new ventures are equally sustainable and impactful Edtech initiatives in Africa which have been operational for at least six years. This gives interested investors or venture capitalists a broad scope for portfolios ranging from high to low risk opportunities to test the water with.

If your instincts are tingling and are wanting to dig a little deeper, there are a number of reliable companies, organizations, competitions and lists to keep an eye on that publish on the best new market stars. The annual eLearning Africa conference and EdTech Summit Africa showcase research and ideas, as well as brilliant networking opportunities, for the angel wanting to get behind a good concept to co-develop minimal viable products (MVPs) and new services from the ground up. For a more medium risk approach, it is worth following the AppsAfrica.com awards list which acts as a brilliant resource for identifying successful venture models with MVPs they are ready to scale and take to a broader market. Finally, for place to look for low risk investments, Africa Tech Ventures invest in the growth of high potential start-ups in Sub-Sahara Africa. They have a brilliant selection of vetted ventures that they already invest in and collaborate with through multiple financing rounds making the companies they work with stable and ready to grow making them ideal to purchase shares or venture capital in before they expand into the global marketplace.

There are also several specific companies that are stepping into the spotlight and catching the eyes of clients and investors which would be valuable to develop a relationship with during their early years. They include the 10 African startups currently participating in the Next Billion Prize in Dubai. My top venture pick for this week is called Book Dash and is outlined below.

EVA’s Top Pick

BookDash – gathers creative volunteers to create new African storybooks that anyone can freely print, translate and distribute

Other Ventures of Interest

BeBlocky – Uses a drag-and-drop blocked based programming language that will enable kids to creatively stack together programming components.

Xander Educational Apps – Addresses the need for basic literacy and numeracy skills to be taught to marginalised young children and provides multilingual educational applications for young children.

Kytabu – An education app which gives learners access to a vast library of educational content and uses Machine Learning to help provide personalized learning paths for the learners.

Snapplify – A content and media technology company centered on content distribution and mobile publishing.

WeThinkCode – Democratises education by offering a free training programme for people between the ages of 17-35.

Mwabu – Offers a range of educational products and services specially created for African markets.

Kukua – Sema Land – Empowering illiterate children to learn reading, writing and basic math through a game based mobile learning platform.

Praekelt dig – A product that enables students to practice their maths skills on a mobile app while encouraging healthy competition within other students from different backgrounds on a single platform.

Etudesk – Provides professional coaching for job seekers, including teachers, to help them find employment.

PraxiLabs – Provides virtual laboratories for schools and learning organizations in the Middle East and beyond with 3D simulations of major experiments in biology, chemistry and physics, students can access these from their devices at any time.

LangBot – Allows schools, teachers or publishers to easily create AI chatbots which act as personal language tutors that teach or prepare learners for tests using content they create on the platform.

Eneza Education – A comprehensive virtual tutor providing universal access to affordable, quality, lifelong learning through mobile technology.

eLimu – Makes literacy apps with relatable content, in local languages, and with scientifically proven pedagogy and relies on storytelling traditions and technology to promote learning and attainment, motivation and retention with contextualized learning.

M-Shule – An education platform bringing personalized, data-driven learning to every child through SMS.

ScholarX – A social impact startup focusing on education financing to help young Africans from low-income backgrounds access quality education through scholarships, crowdfunding and e-learning.

M-Shule– A platform thatmakes use of artificial intelligence and SMS to deliver personalised, accessible education to primary school students across Africa.

Student Hub – E-commerce platform that offers smart education technology to students, government, and educational institutions.

Ubongo – An interactive educational cartoon that teaches kids foundational maths, science and problem-solving skills, and inspires them to use those skills to change the world around them.

Tuteria – An app that links qualified tutors to students in their area and within their budget.

Obami – An e-learning and communications platform which creates an online community that brings together students, teachers, and other individuals in an educational space for a unified learning experience.

Eneza Education – Creates educational content that kids in rural, low-income areas can access on low-end cell phone.

ZeduPad – An educational tablet which teaches users basic numeracy and literacy skills aimed at primary school children and also includes educational information for adults on health, farming, and financial literacy.

Clock Education – A free mobile app that allows access to learning materials to educators anywhere, at any time.