SA’s FoondaMate raises $2m seed round to close education inequality gaps

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South African ed-tech startup FoondaMate has raised US$2 million in seed funding as it aims to close global education inequality gaps using its AI-powered learning platform.

Founded by Dacod Magagula and Tao Boyle in August 2020, FoondaMate has built a chat-based, AI-powered learning bot that helps students get fast, easy and safe access to study materials and help via open chat platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The bot is used by over 400,000 students, speaking 11 languages across 30 countries, and has more than doubled its user base in six months thanks to viral growth. FoondaMate is now targeting further growth after securing a US$2 million seed round.

The round was led by LocalGlobe with participation from Emerge Education, FirstCheck Africa, LoftyInc, Future Africa, Luno co-founder Marcus Swanepoel and Justworks co-founder Isaac Oates. FoondaMate will use the investment to continue growing its team, with a particular focus on engineering and product, while expanding into more regions. The first of these regions are Indonesia, where FoondaMate is currently in beta, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Brazil.

“At FoondaMate, we believe talent is equally distributed yet opportunities are not. There are often competing factors that contribute to educational inequality – not just in Africa, but across the world – and our technology is helping to universally address these. It’s humbling to think so many learners trust us to support their desire to learn and it’s a responsibility we take incredibly seriously. We’re thrilled to have investors that share our passion and who believe in the power of revolutionising how and where students learn,” said Magagula.

Ziv Reichert, partner at LocalGlobe, said FoondaMate’s viral growth strongly reflected how well the product resonates with learners, and spoke volumes to its team’s deep understanding of its users’ needs. 

“Having initially launched with a mission to transform how students across Africa study, FoondaMate has evolved into a tool that is now used and loved by learners from a range of backgrounds, with varying needs and learning styles, from all across the world. We believe that it takes immense empathy for a problem and a real long-term view to build a product of this kind. With more than 400,000 users, it’s fair to say that Dacod and Tao are just getting started and we’re delighted to be supporting them on their journey,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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