Naspers injects R45m funding into The Student Hub

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 18 Nov 2020
Hertzy Kabeya, founder and CEO of The Student Hub.
Hertzy Kabeya, founder and CEO of The Student Hub.

Naspers has reaffirmed its commitment to driving increased growth in SA’s technology sector through a R45 million investment in online learning platform The Student Hub.

The latest investment by Naspers Foundry, Naspers’s R1.4 billion early-stage tech investment vehicle, marks its fourth deal, bringing the total investment to approximately R200 million since its launch in 2019.

Naspers has set its sights on burgeoning educational technology, investing a combined R1 billion in Brainly and Udemy earlier this year.

The Student Hub increases access to vocational education to large numbers of students, while reducing the costs of delivery of education and training.

The company helps overcome the constraints of limited physical infrastructure and related resources by partnering with government-accredited technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, to help them deliver their courses online. The online platform also connects graduates with work opportunities related to their skills set.

“The work of Naspers Foundry is one of the key focus areas of our business in SA,” notes Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, CEO of Naspers South Africa.

“We believe tech companies have the potential to be the cornerstone of SA’s economic growth and we want to play a role in unlocking that potential. Our investment in The Student Hub is an example of how digitalisation has the potential to address unequal access to education, create local opportunities, and enable increased participation towards a more inclusive economy.”

Naspers’s foray into education comes as the COVID-19-induced lockdown has for most of the year forced students to use technology to learn, with more companies venturing into the academic cyber space, offering a slew of learning solutions.

Fabian Whate, head of Naspers Foundry, says: “Over the last 18 months, Naspers Foundry has supported promising, best-in-class early stage tech businesses run by local entrepreneurs that have significant long-term potential and address societal needs.

“We are thrilled with our first edtech investment as Naspers Foundry, and we look forward to working with Hertzy and his team at The Student Hub. We continue to execute transactions against a robust pipeline of potential investment opportunities.”

The Student Hub digitises TVET course content to present curricula in a personalised and learner-centric environment through a 100% online distance learning model, as well as through a blended learning model to students who attend classes in person at TVET campuses nationwide.

The platform also provides tools for lecturers and tutors to track individual student performance, and for heads of faculties to measure the productivity and performance of lecturers in real-time.

The e-learning company has also developed crowdfunding tools to assist students in financing their studies and enable donors to follow the progress of their beneficiaries.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Naspers, given their deep international experience in the edtech sector. We are a technology company that believes that improving access to education to millions of students across South Africa is at the core of what we do,” comments Hertzy Kabeya, founder and CEO of The Student Hub.

“Linking graduates with the right economic opportunities that relate to their skills are what the economy needs right now.”

In 2019, Naspers Foundry invested R30 million in online home cleaning services business SweepSouth and R100 million in May this year, in agritech business Aerobotics, a subscription-based artificial intelligence company. In September, it invested in Food Supply Network, a business-to-business online marketplace that integrates food ordering systems across the food services industry.

Of the total R 4.6 billion that Naspers committed to invest at the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference, which includes the R1.4 billion for Naspers Foundry, the group has so far invested R1.9 billion of its original pledge in its existing South African businesses Takealot, Mr D Food, Superbalist, Media24 and OLX.

Additionally, R69 million has been invested in Naspers Labs, Naspers’s youth development programme which provides unemployed young people with the confidence and training to pursue tech careers in preparation for a more digitally-driven local economy.