Tanzania’s DEMO Africa alumni company Ubongo secures USD 75K from Pearson & Village Capital


Congrats to the teams of education startups Ubongo and Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools! Both were selected to receive USD 75K in seed investments after the Edupreneurs Southern Africa incubator program 2014, facilitated by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund & Village Capital.

DEMO Africa alumni company and VC4Africa member Ubongo is a Tanzanian social enterprise that creates interactive edutainment for learners in Africa, delivered to them via the technologies they already have. They’re bringing African families a transformational, fun new way to learn through educational media delivered through broadcast media and other accessible technologies. The video shown above of Ubongo co-founder Nisha Ligon was shot at DEMO Africa 2013. Check out their VC4Africa venture profile for more.

Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools is a low-cost private school chain in Nigeria with an all-inclusive fee structure and flexible payment system designed for low-income families. The Edupreneurs Southern Africa incubator program, held in South Africa with 13 entrepreneurs over the past 6 months, was organized by the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund and Village Capital, with the support of Omidyar Network and the Center for Education Innovations, South Africa.

Pearson PLC, the largest education company and the largest book publisher in the world, launched the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) in 2012, with $15 million of initial Pearson capital, to make minority equity investments in for-profit education companies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The second partner, Village Capital, is a nonprofit organization that develops startup business acceleration programs across the world and manages a fund investing in graduates of their programs. Finally, Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, which has committed more than $730 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations to catalyze economic and social change.

The thirteen participants in the Edupreneurs program were education startups selected out of 120 applicants from across Africa. Six of the participants came from South Africa, two from Tanzania, two from Nigeria, and one from Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia respectively. The full group of teams consisted out of Bambisa (South Africa), Tutor.ng (Nigeria), Dapt.io (South Africa), Funda Online (South Africa), FunDza Literacy Trust (South Africa), HapaWeb (Ghana), Kidogo (Kenya), Leap Academy (Ethiopia), Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools (Nigeria), Open Futures Foundation (South Africa), Shule Direct (Tanzania), Syafunda (South Africa), Tutor.ng (Nigeria), and Ubongo (Tanzania).

The VilCap model used in the Edupreneurs program helps the participating entrepreneurs develop an investor lens, conducting due diligence on each other, leading to informed peers that are able to score one another using an investment analysis framework. This framework looks at each business based on the following characteristics: (1) Team (2) Product (3) Customer Validation (4) Financials (5) Scale and Impact and (6) Return of Capital. This allows the entrepreneurs themselves to select the top two teams in the cohort to receive pre-committed capital.

On Friday, January 16th the cohort completed the Edupreneurs program. Through the peer review process, the top two companies were revealed, Ubongo and Lekki Peninsula Affordable Schools. These companies will now work with VilCap and PALF to finalize the investment of $75,000 each.

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