Tanzanian edutainment startup Ubongo has received US$75,000 in seed funding in order to help it scale after coming through a six-month incubation programme organised by learning firm Pearson in collaboration with Village Capital.
Ubongo aims to simplify the teaching of mathematics to children through fun video stories in Swahili, and allows participation via SMS.
The startup, alongside Nigeria’s Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools, beat off competition from other educational companies to take home half of the US$150,000 made available by the programme, which first launched in Africa last year and ran a series of workshops covering mentorship and business and investor practices.
Pearson said the companies beat off competition from hundreds of original applications.
“Over the past six months, we’ve been with Village Capital, Omidyar Network and the Center for Education Innovations, to identify the best education startups in Africa. We’ve met many incredible entrepreneurs, and it’s been a real thrill to watch them develop their seeds of ideas into the solutions that might just make the difference,” Pearson said.
“While the scale of the problems they are tackling tie them together, the regions in which they’re operating are radically diverse. The final cohort of entrepreneurs came from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria; each with a specific goal they had set themselves: to increase access to primary education, to provide quality early childhood care, to reduce the dropout rates for higher education, to develop skills of unemployed youth, or to establish ‘edutainment’ as a legitimate pedagogy to engage young, curious minds… to name a few.”
Pearson said by themselves the two companies would not ‘solve’ education in Africa, but they had the opportunity to grow what they had begun and set an example to other education startups across Africa.