12 African edtech start-ups receive collaborative boost

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 15 Apr 2024
Injini reveals the 12 edtech firms that will benefit from its fellowship programme.
Injini reveals the 12 edtech firms that will benefit from its fellowship programme.

Edtech accelerator and think tank Injini, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has selected 12 edtech start-ups to be part of the collaborative fellowship programme.

Applications for the 2024 cohort opened in January. Introduced last year, the Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship provides eligible local edtech start-ups with direct grant funding, product quality evaluation, intensive skill development, coaching, mentorship, market research and access.

In a statement, Injini says the latest cohort of fellows were each selected for their innovative solutions to critical education challenges.

Their solutions range from providing one-on-one tutoring support for reading skills and offering entrepreneurial learning opportunities, to optimising ICT infrastructure in schools and using gamification for financial education, it notes.

Additionally, the fellows focus on empowering teachers with professional development tools, transforming lessons into practical tech projects and creating inclusive learning environments with multilingual capabilities.

“Drawing on insights gained from our inaugural cohort, we are looking forward to collaborating with these 12 companies to enhance educational outcomes in South Africa,” comments Krista Davidson, executive director at Injini.

“Through meaningful dialogues with the Department of Basic Education and provincial education departments last year, we gained valuable understanding of the most pressing needs of South African schools, learners, teachers and parents.”

As part of the initiative, Injini will offer the edtech fellows support from specialists in education innovation, fundraising, impact monitoring and evaluation, commerce, and more.

This includes pedagogical evaluation and certification by EdTech Impact and Education Alliance Finland, as well as customised market research support from Injini’s team of education innovation researchers.

The fellows will also have access to a selection of courses and office hours from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute faculty members at Carnegie Mellon University, the chance to contribute to evidence documenting “what works” in African edtech, and equity-free venture funding exceeding R1 million.

“Our mission is to catalyse and accelerate the edtech ecosystem. That implies that we need enough edtech entrepreneurs working on addressing education challenges in South Africa and across the continent,” says Joseph Nsengimana, director of the Mastercard Foundation Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning.

“As South Africa's education sector navigates its numerous challenges, Injini is eager to continue its work with the Mastercard Foundation in championing these fellows and assisting them to scale their business, increase their impact and effect meaningful change in education across the region," adds Davidson.

The 2024 Injini edtech fellows are:

Book Village: An online tutoring platform for reading. It connects foundation phase learners to volunteer tutors from around the world for one-on-one support that assists learners to read at their own level and pace.

E-Cubed: Offers free, digital, chat-based entrepreneurial learning, connection and innovation opportunities for teachers, learners, parents and officials. It supports mobile-first, low-tech access to easy-to-use, cutting-edge services.

EcoLabs Africa: Optimises ICT infrastructure in township and rural schools by repurposing obsolete computer equipment to create computer labs. It provides end-to-end solutions for access to emerging technologies and learning programmes.

Fintr: Uses games to teach children about money, combining gamified superhero narratives, practical financial exercises and a competitive reward system. It makes financial education fun and engaging, fostering positive financial behaviours from a young age.

Global Teachers Institute: Partners with schools, government and higher education institutions to offer work-integrated learning placements for aspiring teachers, supporting them financially, academically and professionally to become reflective, empathetic and socially responsible master teachers.

Grow ECD: Provides an early childhood development (ECD) management app, a one-stop-shop for ECD owners and teachers, offering tools and resources for running a professional business and classroom. It is free for all ECD business owners in South Africa.

Mindjoy: Provides an operating system for classroom learning, equipping educators with tools to transform lessons into practical tech projects, encouraging student curiosity. The platform supports STEM teachers in adopting innovative teaching approaches.

Finding Thabo, by the Reach Trust: An interactive play-based game designed to stimulate key parts of the brain and build foundations for lifelong learning.

RoboSTEAM: Specialises in teaching coding and robotics to primary school learners, providing training for teachers on integrating these skills into any classroom.

SOCO_ED: Provides an edtech solution suitable for any industry, including content, marketing tools, remote learning features, user profiles, quizzes and live class sessions.

Ubuntu Education: The online HUB empowers African teachers with resources, networks and growth opportunities. Free access to courses, webinars and articles addresses affordability and availability challenges, aiming to advance teachers' careers and revolutionise recruitment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Vambo AI: Empowers learners and educators with multilingual capabilities integrated into the curriculum and learning experience. Educators can create diverse, culturally-relevant content across languages, fostering inclusive and effective learning environments.