Vodacom empowers tech start-ups to address education system challenges

28Nov 2022
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Vodacom empowers tech start-ups to address education system challenges

Over the years, it has been reported that the Tanzanian education system is marred by various challenges despite the government’s continuous efforts to address these challenges which include, but are not limited to,inadequate access to learning materials, a gap in digital literacy, poor -

Innovative tech start-up owners who are also participating in the Vodacom Digital Accelerator season 2, display their trophies won at the ICT start-up awards organised by the Tanzania ICT Commission earlier last month. From left is KharimMchata, CEO at Cyber Security, Zayn Khan, Operations Manager at Spidi Africa, Mohammed Dwassem Founder and CEO at Spidi Africa and Frank Mwandi, Co-Founder of Seto by Wavesleeks.

performance in STEM subjects as well asinadequacy in the provision of entrepreneurial skills.

It is with this insight that some Tanzanian up and coming tech innovative start-ups that are passionate about the education sector made the decision to channel their tech innovative solutions to tackle some of the apparent challenges in the sector.This being a part of their contribution towards supporting the government in scaling up the education system to greater heights.

The identified innovative tech start-ups in question here are; ShuleYetu, Vijana Tech, Lango Academy and Smart Darasa.  As start-ups,these companies are not quite well-established entitiesyet, with some of them in the initial stages of operations and not fully in the market yet.Due to this, there was a need to support them in realizing their potential in order to ensurethe intended benefits of their initiatives impact the nation as a whole in the long run.

As a purpose led tech companykeen on building a digital society among other things, Vodacom Tanzania plc, has demonstrated its support to these up and coming tech innovators through its Vodacom Digital Accelerator (VDA) program. Through this program, Vodacom has been empowering tech start-up companies whose products are tailored to provide solutions to socio-economic challenges in the country

The aforementioned innovative start-ups in the education sector are part of the beneficiaries of this program which Vodacom has partnered with Smart Lab for its delivery. Through this program the start-ups receive technical and commercial skills to scale up their businesses. Funding is also made available to the successful start-ups at the end of each season thus allowing them to fully operationalize their businesses and become profit making.

Speaking of his start-up company and experience in the Vodacom Digital Accelerator program, William Elia, Founder of ShuleYetu Innovation, a digital education platform created to narrow the education gap in primary and secondary schools by improving the quality of education, he said, “most schools in Tanzania still operate under the paper-based mechanism which affects most of the students in their performance.ShuleYetu Innovation will give parents access to see academic results by using their phones hence simplifying parents’ involvement in their children’s performance.

He further explained that, ShuleYetusimplifies administrativeworkforteachers and head teachers such as preparing results, attendance, giving out homework, managing school fee payment record thus helping schools to run well resulting fromimproved efficiencies by 60%.

Speaking of his experience in VDA, he said,‘this program has brought us together connecting withdifferent people, helping us network and overcome challenges and Vodacom has paved the way for us to succeed in the market. We believe that this will help us grow.’

On his part, Gerald RevocatusMukama, Founder of Vijana Tech, a platform that allowsusers to learn digital skills, sell digital skills, and buy digital products. Speaking on how he arrived to establish Vijana Tech, he said, “In our learning environment, we often acquire knowledge that we don't need, and this platform gives young people knowledge that helps them financially after they complete their education.”

He said through the VDA program he now has a betterunderstanding of the market, clientele, and means for customer reach, ‘this has helped me to boost my sales and increase our customer base.Vodacom and Smart Lab have given us additional digital skills that will help us in the future.’

LangoAcademy Founder and CEO, Daisy Kokwenda, said her platform provides the youth with money-making and entrepreneurial skills,“I saw that our education system lacks provision of self-employment skills, that’s whereLango Academy comes in to bridge this gap.As a start-up, this training will help us overcome the challenges in the education sector and Vodacom has given us abundantsupport through this program.’

Lastly, the Founder of Smart Darasa, Aginiwe Justice whose platform assists students to learn science practically said Smart Darasa came into being after seeing NECTA results whereasa large number of students tend to fail science subjects.

‘If you look at Africa in general, there is a shortage of doctors and engineers. Teachers also find it difficult to teach science subjects. So, by using this technology you can overcome these challenges. Smart Darasais geared to bridge this gap by allowing students to learn practically in correlation with theory.’

The digital accelerator program has helped me to learn different techniques on how to start a company and identifying the right business partners. He also said that he saw on Vodacom’s Twitterpage that thecompany donates laptops and computers to schools and his wish is for the Smart Darasa app to be installed in these devicestherefore allowing it to reach many schools around the country.

In late September this year, Vodacom in partnership with Smart Lab announced 13 winners of season 2 of Vodacom Digital Accelerator program. The program aims to give tech innovative start-ups an opportunity to scale up their businesses. Through the program the start-ups receive trainings from experts, mentorship, and technical skills. The first season of VDA took place in 2019.

Sectors powered by the program this season include; Fintech, Edutech, Healthtech, Agriculture, Entertainment, Tourism, Cybersecurity and e-commerce.