One-line solution summary:
Regardless of where you are in Africa, we will make sure tech skill training is accessible to you.
Pitch your solution.
By 2013, Africa will have a 600-Million workforce that is ready to work and change the destiny of the continent. Of this number, 37% will be less than 25. That is bigger than China. Poor access and expensive internet makes it 4 times more difficult for an average young African to access premium technology skill training. Scaling technology skill training in Africa has been a big challenge, leaving behind those that are at the bottom of the pyramid.
Regardless of your location, your internet situation and income demography, we bring premium technology skill training to your doorstep. We provide learners with encrypted devices which has more than 40 well-structured and designed training programs and offer a pay-as-go model, a learning support system through SMS and social media platform and an incentive of access to employers for remote jobs.
The goal is to give 20 million people access to skill training.
What specific problem are you solving?
Can African organizations thrive in a digital economy without the right Human capital and workforce? As a case in mind, there are about 3.5 million entry-level job vacancies that go unfilled each year. According to the African Development Bank, 2 out of every 3 African graduates remain unemployed. This is a reflection of the continent's skill gap. We can not be better than the quality of our people.
Yet, learning premium technology skill is a hassle for Africans because, for an average African, it is 4 times more expensive to learn remotely due to the cost of the internet and the accessibility. More than 85% of people abandon virtual training because of the associated cost. The ripple effect of this problem is expressed on the cost of hiring talent. Hence, employers spend more time and money on finding quality talents.
The interdependence of this problem is quoted by Mckinsey Institute report, "75% of employers find it hard to fill roles that are critical to the growth of their business while the employment rate in Africa is on the rise due to the skill gap." This paradox affects Sub-Sahara Africa countries and inturn affect about 200 million young people.
What is your solution?
The solution that we developed is called 'The Nucleus' because it is the brain box of every premium technology skill training. We put a single device in the hand each African youth and they can access more than 70 well structured and curated tech skill training with or without internet.
Our team with a faculty network of about 350 have developed different training programs in the form of videos, assignments and instructions in the form of voice notes and a support system that helps incentives learning completion.
The hardware is a 300G encrypted tab with earpiece and WiFi (and Bluetooth) connectivity and a battery life span of 12 hours. The device does not allow for content transfer but does permit upgrade through WiFi.
Hence The Nucleus is a encrypted hardware with more than 70 different structured learning programs, made accessible with unique access code. Each course on each device has a unique access code which is made available upon payment. To complement the learning experience, virtual coaching systems and accountability partners are made available to each learner per week through a simple Chat-bot.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
This model and technology for learning technology skills are developed for post-secondary school leavers in the African continent. Demographically, they are people between the ages of 18- 30 years and leave in Africa. More than half of our effort and resources focus on people within this age bracket that leaves in areas where poor access to the internet.
The Nucleus gives the user the opportunity to access premium technology skill training like people in the cities, hence providing them with the capability to access the type of jobs that will transform their lives.
Currently, the solution has helped about 2500 young people learn skills like Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Product Management, Programming and Coding and Design. Also, through Utiva, about 200 companies have been able to hire well trained and ambitious talents for roles like software developer, data scientists. This opportunity gives an average African the opportunity to work remotely on projects and earn more; hence transforming lives and communities. .
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
For the most youthful continent, the success of organizations and enterprises is dependent on the quality of it's human factor. In 2019, the Lagos Business School and University of Pretoria identified that the African businesses are scaled back up to about 60% and less competitive globally for a couple of reasons and the Human Capital factor is a major reason.
To fast-track the growth of the enterprises in this continent, we must invest in people. Our solution helps to scale premium skill training across different regions; giving people access to tech skill training independent of the barrier- internet.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Lagos, Nigeria
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
Who is the primary delegate for your solution?
If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
There are two elements that drive the innovativeness of our solution. First being the technology and the second is the learning model that drives the training and the last is the
First being the technology hardware itself. The hardware is an encrypted device which allows learners to access the training contents on the go with or without internet. The device is encrypted with 4 different layers of security to prevent unauthorized content. Also, the device is embedded with an analytics software which captures students learning data offline and transfers it to the cloud seamless when ever the students connect to the internet. This way, we are able to provide better value and support to students leveraging their data.
The Learning Model
The Utiva learning approach is what drives the major innovativeness of the solution. This approach has helped users to achieve 95% training completion rate as against the usual standard of 18%. Firstly, upon registration, we connect you to a new friend and a coach. And then give you a support community that interact with you on social media platform. Finally, the learning approach is Project-based and there is a virtual internship built into the learning model that helps to reinforce learning.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
We have two different versions of our technology; the first is our dongle and the other is a mini-tab.
1. The Dongle: Our technology is a software protected dongle. The Nucleus, being a software protection dongle (commonly known as a dongle or key) is an electronic copy protection and content protection device. The dongle is connected to a computer and/or a mobile phone and with running a major software, the user unlocks software functionality or decodes content. The device itself is programmed with a product key or other cryptographic protection mechanism and functions.
2. The Mobile Tab: The mobile tab is a protected device in form of a mini-tab with two layers of software encryption that prevents the content of the device from being shared. The device works also with a WiFi and a Bluetooth but does not allow for USB connection.
There are three major important component of the mini-tab that needs to be understood:
- Each student gets a password which unlocks the device and the dongle. With a token, the students can access each course once at a time.
- The device also connects to the wifi and immediately activates its auto-download.
- The Device, when connected to the internet can collect learning data in form of small bytes and send it to our cloud system.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
Till date, we have shipped about 2000 of the technology devices, captured more than 40,000 data points from users and in 1 year experienced zero breach in the software. Also, it is almost impossible to transfer the contents because it does not have USB ports and the inbuilt software does not allow for external transfers.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
The Theory of Change:
1. The Barrier to Entry: The first layer of objective is to lower the barrier of entry to technology education by developing a holistic approach that helps learner access the minimum viable learning needs.
- The internet challenge: Providing a platform and device that helps take the barrier to entry off so that learners can learn without internet barrier.
- The Challenge of learning isolation: The model built around the learning helps provide support to each learner which in turn helps to accelerate learning and also ensure completion.
2. The Output: Each learner can conveniently complete each learning module and work on projects remotely and submit outcomes of work virtually. The cummulative output is that we are able to measure performance of learners and study the patterns to improve the quality of future training contents
3. The Outcome: Leveraging our dashboard, we can measure the completion rate and also provide better analytics on how students learn. On the learners' end, the skills acquired become a touch point to new job opportunities.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
Currently, the Utiva product called 'The Nucleus' has been shipped to 2000 users within the space of 6 months. Hence, about 2000 people are accessing premium skill learning through the encrypted devices. While more than 12,000 people are learning through our web-based instructor led online platform. While our web-based platform is accessible to about 12,000 people and about 6500 people have completed learning at least 1 course on the platform.
We have a direct and exclusive partnership with three (3) government agencies in Nigeria. Two of which currently works with us to train about 5000 people through 'The Nucleus' model.
By the end of 2020, we would have developed a strategic presence in 20 states and cities in Nigeria and our goal for 2021 is to scale our work in 5 more countries. This means by 2021, we would have presence in 5 African countries, helping about 1 million people access access technology education.
In the next 5 years, our goal is to reach 2.5 million users in 5 African countries.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Our goal is defined by these three major objectives.
- Scale through partnership: Our model is to develop partnership with other training organizations in the tech education space and offer 'The Nucleus' as a scalable learning tool for the students. This way, we help them productize learning in such a faster and more scalable way.
- Work with more Universities: Our goal is to develop a presence in 200 universities in 5 years. We currently have a presence in 30 universities and the goal is to use the same model to scale to more schools.
- Improve the Scale of Content Development: We are building the first technology education studio in the heart of Lagos. The facility is designed to help us create the best contents at the scale that can help us reach our target market.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
To scale our growth in Africa, we need to reach the Anglophone and francophone countries and that implies that we have to have contents created in English and also French. Our initial attempt to get into the closest country to Nigeria, Cameroon was slowed down because of the language differences. That implies about 40 training contents would have to be created in French. This is a worthwhile endeavor because there are about 29 countries in Africa and we intend to be a major player in these markets.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We set up a team of 5 experts across 2 of these countries to set up a new training team of 30 people that we can work with in the next 5 months and create these contents. We will start working on developing the training contents in these languages and begin to encrypt them in our devices for the first 5000 learners.
What type of organization is your solution team?Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit
If you selected Other, please explain here.
How many people work on your solution team?
Management Team: 5 Full Time
Program Team: 15 Full Time
Program Associate: 20 Full Time
Part-Time Trainer: 70
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Everyone that works at Utiva is connected by one single past; we all proven track record working in the Education and talent development space. More than 80% of our staff have also worked in the technology industry and everyone on the leadership has worked in the Education and technology industry for at least 5 years.
The CEO has 7 years in product management and working on USAID-funded Education programs and has a Masters in Business Strategy. The global operation lead has 5 years experience leading operations of technology companies and has a masters in information technology. The Chief Technology Officer is an ex-entrepreneur and has led 3 different companies in the education space. The Program Director has an MBA and also 7 years of experience lecturing at the University.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
We have a large network of partners today.
Distribution: We have a strategic partnership with Gokada that helps us distribute our device in a more efficient and faster way. This partnership gives us 60% discount on deliver, a dedicated API for tracking delivery and access to about 4000 drivers within their network
Training Facilities: We currently have a partnership with 40 training facilities in Nigeria. These facilities are typical co-working spaces and technology hubs. This strategic partnership allows us use their facilities at about 50% discount for our regional masterclasses that run almost every week at different locations.
What is your business model?
We have made the access to the dongle and tablet quite very flexible for people. Each tablet device costs $85 and comes with an initial access to 2 major technology skill courses and 5 soft skills training. It cost us $25.55 to make a device (shipping cost) to the users through our partnership with Gokada. With this, we make a Gross Margin of 69.94% and a gross profit of $59.45. We also capture a recurring revenue of an average of $100 on each device if learners pay for any other training. From the first 2000 pilots, we captured an average of $100 on each device in recurring.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
We recently got into a partnership that gives us access to about 1 million recent graduates every year in a structured program. This partnership with the National Youth Service Corps allows us to work directly with these recent graduates for 1 year. Our mission with this program is to put a device in the hands of each graduate and offer them the opportunity to pay at installments. With this partnership, we can reach about 50,000 young people every month. This is our path to financial sustainability and that will take us 3 months to reach success. With a current runway of about about $50,000, we are able to invest much into the marketing of this device.
Why are you applying to Solve?
Our student base is increasing at 20% month-over-month, making us the largest tech talent community in Nigeria. We trained about 3000 young people this year and we are on track to reaching 6000 in 2020. Being a Solver and of course the winner of the challenge provide the platform to learn some global practices for growing communities like ours from the ecosystem.
Finally, this program gives us the opportunity to access other resources and funding that will in turn help accelerate our model of engagement and provide a subsidy to the cost of training.
Finally, being a part of this program will help us improve our AI-powered tech platform that is designed to help companies outsource technology projects to people within our ecosystem.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
We currently have a very good product distribution model and also a seemingly good pricing model, however, we are looking to optimize the distribution channel and shorten the time that it takes each student to get a device.
We are also looking to globalize our advisory board and mentors network.
Finally, we need more training and mentoring on our business model. We want to be able to capture more monetary value.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
A strategic partnership for us at this point would be with networks of technology hubs, incubators and accelerators in the United States. As we become the leading technology education company in Nigeria and also in Africa, an important part of our work is globalizing our employers' network to give more global employment opportunities to young people that are passing through our learning programs in Africa.
One of the major ways to explore this is by developing more strategic relationships with organizations that are hubs to technology startups and scaleups in the US. This gives us the platform to provide the service of distributed engineering teams to them
Eyitayo Ogunmola CEO, Utiva