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Edtech platform – Zeraki – raises $1.8m to push its expansion across East Africa

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Kenyan Edtech platform, Zeraki, has raised $1.8 million in its seed funding round. The startup, which promotes quality education in Africa by leveraging digital learning and school data analytics solutions, said it will use the funds to upscale its growth, and push its expansion across East Africa.

The seed funding round had leading participations from Acumen Fund. Further participations came from investment firms which includes Save the Children Impact Investment Fund, Verdant Frontiers Fintech, Logos Ventures, the Nairobi Business Angels Network (NaiBAN), and Melvyn Lubega, co-founder of Go1, an Australia-based edtech unicorn.

Zeraki was co-founded in 2014 by Isaac Nyangolo (CEO) and Erick Oude (COO). When the startup began operations, the co-founders aims at bridging the void they discovered in Africa’s educational environment, so, they built a mobile-first cloud-based platform that serves as an interactive digital learning platform for high school students – with quizzes and tools to monitor student progress.

“We’ve built an extensive distribution channel covering almost half of the high schools in Kenya, and that means we have an opportunity to solve other tech needs that schools have. We plan on building more administrative tools for schools, and payment products on the parents’ side. We have also brought back focus on [the once dormant] digital learning platform, and also tested a number of products like timetabling,” Nyangolo said.

The startup has been operating in the shadows, prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to the startup becoming popular. To further improve on its product, Zeraki then built a data analytics system that manages students’ data, and allow teachers upload students’ grades, and give performance feedback on each student, right from their mobile devices.

“We realized that schools were purchasing the product but not using it because they lacked the appropriate infrastructure, and teachers didn’t know how to integrate it within the school setting. We were bootstrapping at the time, and didn’t have enough resources to do consumer education. But around 2017 we realized that data was actually a much bigger problem in schools. […] Every child needs a report card at the end of the school term. And the platforms for producing these report forms were offline computer-based platforms. So, teachers had to line up behind two or three computers at a school to do the data entry in order to produce the report forms. By moving this to a mobile-first cloud-based experience, it means that as soon as they are done grading students’ grades at home, the teachers just enter the scores on their phone,” Nyangolo said.

Zeraki currently has operational presence in Kenya, Uganda, and Guinea, and aims towards expanding into 10 more markets in Africa, and explore francophone countries.

“Education is yet to be digitalized across most countries in Africa, and there is greater opportunity for us to build this market. Laying that foundation that introduces countries, schools and parents on how technology can solve the problems we have in education and being one of the companies in Africa that have shown that it is possible to do this at scale makes this an exciting opportunity,” CEO, Nyangolo, said.

With about 5,000 schools, and 2 million students learning on its platform, Zeraki plans to increase the number after completing its expansion.

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When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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