The ed-tech space in Nigeria seems to be gaining a lot more momentum. Just a week after uLesson raised $13 million, Edukoya, a start-up based in both Lagos and London, raised $3.5 million in pre-seed funding led by Berlin-based VC Target Global.
Founded in May 2021 by Honey Ogundeyi, Edukoya creates educational content and offers online tutoring for students and parents alike. The platform offers students a wide range of features such as round-the-clock homework assistance and exam prep, personalised performance tracking systems, as well as an extensive question bank with detailed workings.
Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in the world at 10.5 million. Most of the children who make it to school still have to deal with poor quality education. Education in Nigeria is typically characterised by terrible infrastructure, poorly equipped learning spaces, low-quality teachers, overpopulated classrooms, out-of-date curriculums, and more. Recently, the student-to-teacher ratio in the country was as high as 46:1 for primary school students. All these problems stand in the way of children getting access to high-quality education, and so parents turn to supplementary after-school classes for their children.
Ekudayo’s founder Ogundeyi, says she’s had her experiences with the system, and the only thing that saved her was going abroad to study. “Sometimes, even the most brilliant students can be let down by the system,” she said. “If my parents hadn’t made the sacrifice for me to go abroad, all the successes that I’ve had in my career would have been completely different. Now, I have two kids, and seeing that same problem of going to school and struggling with some subjects made me look into getting after-school teachers. And it just struck me that this thing hasn’t changed pretty much for the last 50 years. If we look at all the innovation across different industries, Africa’s education system has remained untouched for 50 years; it’s been stagnant.”
The Nigerian education system is designed such that students who spend six years in secondary school write major exams like JAMB (Joint Admission and Matriculations Board) and WASSCE (West African Senior School Certificate Examination) to gain admission into tertiary institutions. Students usually study for these exams by practicing with previous test questions. These past questions have been gathered by Edukoya and made available to students on its mobile app. Beyond this, the app provides students access to experienced tutors and step-by-step workings to tough past problems.
In just a few months after its beta launch in May, Edukoya affirms that its platform has helped 96 per cent of users score higher marks during recent tests than when they didn’t use the app. While exam preparation centres aren’t foreign to Nigerians, Edukoya takes things online and is determined to be affordable for students and parents. Affordability will be a major factor in how much Edukoya will be able to achieve, as the average Nigerian family will find it difficult to afford high subscriptions. For now, the app is free to use, but the CEO said the company would explore a freemium model where premium products are used to upsell students or parents.
There have been several start-ups that focus on test preparation in Nigeria but Ogundeyi believes that her start-up’s approach to learning makes it stand out from competitors. She said, “Our model is unique in that we are reaching parents and learners 100 per cent online and supporting them not only across exams but also the day-to-day learning, homework, support, etc.
Edukoya, however, does go beyond exam prep. “First, it’s an educational partner to parents and learners in primary and secondary school. We’ve seen people tackle smaller pockets in different ways, but not in a holistic way that we’re thinking about it.” Unlike most ed-tech startups like uLesson that tend to provide services for learners in grades 1-12, Edukoya is only available for learners in grades 10-12. These are the students preparing to cross into tertiary institutions. Ogundeyi says that once they test with this demographic and five core subjects, it will open up to cover more subjects and other grade levels.
When asked why the company adopted this model, she said, “I think that’s from my core focus — one of the things I got from Google, which is to make a core group of people love you first. We are working with the last three grades, which are very important in Nigeria because that’s where people take those exams. And we think this is a good sort of test bucket to work with a really core group of people who need an intervention in that space. Once we have proven that it works here, it’s easier for us to expand it across other curriculum years and grades.”
This funding will be used to expand the Edukoya team and its learner base as well as build the technology needed for its platform. The funding is currently the biggest pre-seed funding in the African ed-tech space and the biggest raised by a Nigerian female single founder.
Lisa Chong, the Investment Director at Target Global and Edukayo’s lead investor, said, “Edukoya’s mission to provide better quality education to millions of African students, combined with the team’s ability to execute on this ambition, left an immediate impression on myself and the whole team at Target Global. Their business has the potential to unlock learner potential and improve lives across generations.”