Edves is raising $2.5M Pre-Series A round to continue expansion in Africa

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Edves is an Edtech with high-level adoption and usage within the EdTech and digital infrastructure space in Africa, having over 1,200 schools, 22K+ Educators, 130K+ parents and 250K+ students in 6 African Countries. The leading SaaS company has expanded to 4 African countries in the last 6 months after raising the over-subscribed $575,000 in a Seed round. 

Co-founded by ‘Dimeji Falana, and Dare Adebayo, the duo seem to have understood the market needs better than their peers in the space, and this is reflected in their market differentiation , which has yielded product-market fit in Nigeria. 

What’s unique about Edves? 

Edves is among the few African Edtech that serve the Primary and Secondary schools with learning and School management software, a customized digital infrastructure at a scale. The needs of schools vary in curriculum and pedagogy, and the plan varies in learning objectives, therefore delivering last-mile education without a digital infrastructure reduces the ability of the teachers to deliver learning effectively. With Edves, Parents and Teachers can track and analyze Student journey using data on learning objectives and assessment to meet unique needs of the students. In addition to learning management capabilities, its features include; School Fee Payment Collection (using USSD, Bank-to-Bank and Card payment methods) and other critical administrative activities.

How have you been able to maintain your resilience and stay focused on the goals since the early days of Edtech in Nigeria? 

We started with a greedy focus on long games, with a heart filled with the genuine needs and wants of the market. Initial priority was about cracking the market-fit status before anyone else could, and that was realized before reaching the 500th School in 2019. Our culture promotes closeness to the market and customer-obsession, and we have invested time and money in consumer insights, attraction and satisfaction. Also, the iterative feedback on product and pricing has led to a moat and unmatched value proposition in the market resulting in Edves being the most used Edtech in Nigeria in 2020 and 2021, (according to Semrush report). The engineering strength deployed to build the system glued with the business model from backend to frontend, and that has been proven in position resilience, to meet diverse demands of the schools. Only Edves, at over 1200 Schools, allows customization per School with unique URL, School Fee Billing Schedule, Fees Collection, Lesson Note, Color Theme, Report Templates in accordance to the School specification. The same software is powering the variations in market demands. There are hundreds of Schools running Nigerian, British, American, Baccalaureate and Hybrid curriculum on Edves, yet, the same engineering architecture permits them to achieve the objectives of digitizing the learning journey. 

Would you say you have achieved success, looking at how far you’ve come since the company started. What does success in this industry really mean to you? 

We are still on the journey, in the early days towards glory, so we press forward daily. In Africa, it is assumed that there are over 500,000 K-12 schools, and over 75,000 are in Nigeria, while over 11,000 are in Lagos State Nigeria alone. Today, we have only crossed 1,200 schools, so the journey is still in its early stages. The market size is currently at $15.4 billion with CAGR of 36.5%. 

To us, success means the state when African Schools and the Education System have been fully powered with the digital tool that will support the teachers to give a bespoke learning experience for every child, leveraging a unique data set on the academic journey of the child. 

What gap in the market did you spot? What is the competition? 

In 2030, Africa’s under-18 population (K-12 school-age) will increase by two thirds, reaching almost 1 billion by mid-century; and close to half of the world population of children will be in Africa by the end of the 21st century. An increase in this age-group population, coupled with the need to reduce costs of education, and teachers dependent on traditional classroom management, have led to high demand for digital-led operation and lesson instructions for efficiency, ability to educate a growing population and improved delivery. 

The population growth in Africa is increasing demands for basic education, and the currently struggling brick-and-mortar school systems will be stressed beyond capacity, hence the urgency in availing strong technology infrastructure to back education delivery and school administration, because the physical infrastructures are slow to build, rigid and costly to maintain. Therefore, in response to this, Edves is the digital infrastructure, the operating system that is powering the learning and administration of schools and the education system. 

The competition started with Pen-and-Paper, MS Excel and a few players from outside the African continent, but in the contemporary days, we have seen new entries in

various little segments. Edves however innovates at the core of Education, ensuring efficiency in learning and administration in the entire journey of a learner. 

How are you funded? Any other serious landmarks? 

Since incorporation, we bootstrapped Edves for 2 years before receiving grants from Seedstars having won the Best Edtech Prize in Switzerland in 2018. The grant of $50,000 USD was funded by Jacobs Foundation. In the last quarter of 2018, we received the first investment of $120,000 from Chinook Capital and GC Fund CChub. 

In 2019, we grew to over 500 schools, and in 2020, we crossed the 700th school milestone. In 2021, we received Seed Investment of $575,000 with over subscribed participation from Beta Venture, Chinook Capital, Launch Africa, Future Africa, and others. 

Between June and December 2021, we acquired customers from Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, and ended the year with over 1,000 schools in 6 countries. 

What difficulties have you encountered in launching? 

The typical challenge of any venture stems around the ability to serve the market in a commercially-viable feat. So, we also had our initial challenges in customer needs assessments and knowing the stakeholders that would derive values from our propositions. We also had challenges in raising capital but that was resolved by our capability to grow real tractions and show return trajectory that resonates with investors’ thesis. 

Hiring has always been a challenge we can’t ignore but our culture creates balance in employee needs and company objectives and with our depth in ethics and mentorship strength, we have attracted and retained talents from entry level to senior roles. 

What markets are you operating in currently? Any expansion plans? 

We currently serve customers in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Cameroon through our staff and partners. Our ambition is Pan African, and we shall go into other markets as designed in our pathway. At least, we will be in the 10th African market by December 2022. 

Any take on the fundraising?

Yes, we are seeking $2.5M in Pre-Series A, to fund our source of growth and expand. We have a list of investors and some commitments are already on the table. Nevertheless, we are definitely open to having conversations with active global and African investors who would be willing to join us on the journey, and through our experience, the state of our readiness would keep the conversation direct and easy to deal with.

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