A $1.8 million seed round, headed by Acumen Fund, has been raised by Kenyan edtech company Zeraki to expand its product line and reach new markets. Zeraki specialises in digital learning and school data analytics systems.
Melvyn Lubega, co-founder of Go1, an Australian edtech unicorn, and the Nairobi Business Angels Network (NaiBAN), as well as Save the Children’s Impact Investment Fund, Verdant Frontiers Fintech, and Logos Ventures, all invested in the round.
Zeraki CEO and co-founder Isaac Nyangolo told that the company is working on a variety of new features, including timetabling software, to better assist schools and parents.
“We’ve created an enormous distribution channel encompassing almost half of the high schools in Kenya and that means, we have a chance to answer additional digital demands that schools have,” said Nyangolo.
We also intend to expand our parent-facing payment options and school-centric administrative resources. Timetabling is just one example of a product we’ve put through its paces as part of our commitment to revitalising our digital learning platform, which had been neglected for some time.
After seeing growth in its existing markets of Kenya, Uganda, and Guinea, Zeraki plans to expand into 10 other markets within the next three years.
“We’re expanding first into the regions that we understand and have similar business environments. We plan on first moving into the entire East Africa community and then exploring the Anglophone region,” said Nyangolo.
Zeraki, which was co-founded by Nyangolo and Erick Oude (COO) in 2014, was initially introduced as an interactive digital learning platform for high school students in 2016, complete with quizzes and systems for tracking their performance, but it didn’t gain traction until the Covid pandemic hit in 2020.
“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,” he said.
Zeraki set out to develop the analytics solution to aid educational institutions in managing student information. Teachers are able to upload student grades from their mobile devices thanks to the data analytics platform, which then provides a detailed overview of student performance by individual, subject, and stream.
In addition to providing a means for parents to monitor student progress and make payments, the platform also includes a mass messaging tool for internal and external communication.
“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.”
According to Nyangolo, the data analytics platform is currently being used by over 5,000 schools, serving over 2 million pupils. As businesses expand into new areas and more schools adopt digital solutions to expedite administrative processes, he believes demand will continue to rise.
“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,” he said.
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