By Tobias Pius
A successful funding round by Nigerian tech-entrepreneur, Sim Shagaya-founded learning technology platform, uLesson, has put the firm in sure footing for a planned expansion push into Eastern and Southern Africa.
The funding round raised $7.5 million in what is now a clear sign that activities in the country’s start-up tech space would be boisterous this year notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic that has turned many a global economy upside down.
Success for the for uLesson now also means that it can begin to unfold its broad plan to secure new talent, build the edtech startup’s product development and production infrastructure, as well as look to reach countries in eastern and southern Africa. In the age of Covid-19 and the new normal, the funding could not have come at a better time to enable the firm make the push.
“Africa is not one place. Different needs, cultures, and curricula mean that uLesson has to carefully and deliberately think about how to design products and distribution channels to serve such a vast market. Almost daily we receive emails from families across the continent asking us to make services available to them. And in 2021, we will,” Shagaya said upon the successful funding round.
The fund raising was led by Owl Ventures which included some existing investors, TLcom Capital, Founder Collective, as well as participation from new investor, LocalGlobal.
Tech entrepreneur, Shagaya, one of the founding partners of Konga, founded uLesson in 2019 and based it in Lagos, Nigeria. He shaped the edtech startup to provide high-quality, cost-effective, and accessible education across Africa using technology.
Since its official launch in May 2020, uLesson’s unique app has secured up to a million downloads, allowing users to create personalised and curriculum-relevant content for learners to access using mobile and PC devices. The educational content covers students in the K-7 to K-12 educational year in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia.
The uLesson app according to Shagaya plans to undergo an upgrade, and will include plans to launch an iOS-compatible app version. It will launch a handful of new products like a new pan-African primary school library, one-on-one tutoring sessions and challenges.
Students can access the educational content and lessons via the streaming function or SD cards, where the content has been pre-installed for them. The download function gives room for students to continue lessons without depending on a stable internet connection, or increasing accessibility.
The curriculum created by uLesson also includes IGCSE curriculum, catering to other markets. Over 5,000 animated video lessons have been created, 30,000 tests and quizzes from junior to senior to classes are available on the uLesson app for Android.
Although the e-learning education sector was already established in developed countries and trending at an appreciable rate even before the Covid-19 pandemic age of quarantines and social distancing, the contagion has now accelerated the growth of this trend in developing countries, including Nigeria and other parts of Africa at an unimaginable rate, especially with increased availability of data networks and more affordable smartphones.