Funda, An Online eLearning Platform set to transform Higher Learning Across Africa
Funda is an online training platform that has been partnering up with South African universities to enable learners access short e-courses online. The creative brains behind Funda are five recent African graduates from different African countries who came together and created this revolutionary e-learning platform.
The team members are Kolawole Olajide (Nigeria), Kennedy Kitheka (Kenya), Sameer Rawjee (South Africa), Kumbirai Gundani (Zimbabwe) and Jason Muloongo (Zambia).
Funda is based in Cape Town and has received one major private investor, who has enabled it to harness the growing demand for online education. The name Funda was coined by Olajide, and means ‘to learn’ in the Zulu dialect. Olajide came up with this concept after discovering he could not take school back home with him.
He says, “At Funda, we develop learning management systems and provide content development services to higher institutions to take their courses online so that the general public can access them at a cheaper price.”
According to Olajide, one of the key driving force for success for Funda, is the flexibility it offers learners.
“It’s responsive to the students’ schedules. But also managers who want to do courses but are too busy to do them can now use (Funda) and sign in when they get back from work and access the resources online.”
Olajide initial plan was to setup the company in his home country Nigeria, but soon discovered the obstacles in his country were too many compare to South Africa.
“It was very difficult because they were not digitally ready. They did not understand what I was trying to do. The second problem I faced was internet penetration in the country. I thought South Africa was more stable, so Funda had a higher chance of success there because many people already have the internet.”
All of the Funda team members are below the age of 25 and are using technology to provide solutions to the challenges they have experienced.
“We bring together the problems we’ve seen in different parts of Africa, and we are all trying to create together solutions to the problems we have experienced in different parts of the continent,” says Olajide.
“I was aware of user experience because user experience of technology in Nigeria was not very good. One of the other partners was keen on developing the mobile application because he said in his area of the world, there are more mobile users. So we are bringing together solutions made by the problems we’ve faced in Africa.”
He further explains how Funda offers mobile services, by allowing users to download their mobile app for free and access the e-learning portal by using a special keycode provided by the university.
“At the moment, (mobile) is very limited. Mobile phones are good for getting your results, educators checking attendance reports and all that stuff. But the real core experience if from the desktop machine.”
Funda was launched back in 2009, and ever since it has received various high profile recognitions such as the UN Development Programme and the World Economic Forum. It can also boast of several accolades, such as the “Best Tech Innovation and Education” award given to it by UN’s World Youth Summit in 2012 and the “Best Sustainable Business Model” prize by Mazar.
For now, Funda’s goal is to create sustainable growth before it rolls out in other African countries. As Olajide puts it
“Our major goal is to be a major education technology provider in Africa. So we’re just trying to strategically position ourselves, so when Africa is ready we would also be ready.”
Olajide is determined to keep working and ensure that accessibility to education across Africa increases.
The young Nigerian says, “The future of the continent lies in how educated people are. All the major problems can be solved with education – education is the key to the future.”