South African startup iGrow Academy has raised funding from an educational institution in the country in order to expand marketing of its online courses.
Launched in September last year, iGrow Academy provides low-cost online vocational and soft skill courses licensed by South African academic institutions.
Though he would confirm neither the source of the funding nor the amount raised, chief executive officer (CEO) Jared Koning told Disrupt Africa the startup had given the college in question 15 per cent equity and would be using the money to ramp up its marketing.
He said iGrow already had 800 students registered on platform and paying for courses, and the startup is targeting sales of ZAR1 million (US$80,000) in the next year. Koning believes the business can be a ZAR100 million (US$8 million) online learning college within the next 10 years.
This is due to the size of the addressable market, with Koning saying South Africa has 400,000 matrics, but only 33 per cent of them eligible for tertiary education.
“That leaves almost 70 per cent that don’t have access to resources to get educated,” he said.
iGrow has been working with the National Youth Development Agency to integrate its content into youth centres around the country, and has been offered the opportunity to launch in Canada and the United States (US). Koning says the startup is focused on South Africa for now, however.
“In South Africa there’s such a demand for education. We want to be the GetSmarter for soft-skilled and vocational training,” he said.
“People are saying we are innovative, we are different, we’re thinking beyond and providing a platform for people that couldn’t study before.”