One-line solution summary:
A platform that provides video learning curriculum courses while mobilising partnerships between girls as digital mentors for each other.
Pitch your solution.
#SomaNasi, Swahili for 'Learn with Me', is part of Kytabu Inc.'s irls-for-Girls program that equips female students with 4,500 videos and 15,000 assessment questions that cover the entire 12-year Kenyan education curriculum while partnering them with virtual study-partners around them in a virtual study group.
The #SomaNasi program then deploys an adaptive learning platform that supports the students' learning journey, both individually and collectively, on a mobile phone app, SMS text and offline. This content access, together with virtual learning groups that work on group assignments, get badges together and interact in a virtual learning environment that is safe and free for girls, helps keep girls connected to learning, and keeps them from dropping behind or leaving school all together.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
#SomaNasi is working to increase the number of girls and young women participating in formal and informal learning and training which is both a technological and social challenge.
Access to learning resources and social support systems are some of the biggest deterrents for girls working towards achieving their education goals. In Kenya, 7.3 of the 11 million students under 18 are girls with 5.2 million in lower income communities and currently home due to COVID 19. Globally, girls in a similar position are 130 million.
A majority of girls find themselves without learning materials but also lack the social support that peer groups of a similar mindset provide when in any progressive environment. A big part of the problem is the fragmentation of our living spaces and the high density of low income communities. Girls find it difficult to identify like-minded girls that can advance their learning endeavours.
By providing a virtual learning environment with a education resources and then creating virtual learning groups that achieve accolades and provide incentives for group-centric progress, #SomaNasi will support girls and young women participating in formal and informal learning and training.
What is your solution?
#SomaNasi deploys a combination of Kytabu's Learning Management System (LMS), mobile application and SMS text solution. The LMS acts both as a learning content repository and a virtual classroom creator that slots girls in similar geo-tagged locations that register to be in a similar grade into one group. The virtual classroom then exists for a month to 3 months with all the girls set on achieving specific goals, unlocking badges, getting credits and going up learning levels by watching videos, doing assignments and working on problems together every day.
#SomaNasi then uses adaptive technology to provide each girls with a personalised learning journey that enables them to study according to their level, but provides collective assignments with every student required to do their part of the assessment to collectively move the team forward. This communal effort comes with a communal rewards that increase virtual classroom app status, spending credit and also allows for financial incentive for regional or national competitions.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
#SomaNasi is a targeting girls and women of school going age in the national education system in East Africa. These directly include girls in all social and economic classes (low-income, middle-income and upper-income), special groups (LGBTQI+) and marginalised groups (refugees, internally displaced, out-of school) that would be using the Kytabu app or SMS short-code to join the Girls-for-Girls #SomaNasi program. Because the application is mobile and does not require physical interaction, social and economic barriers would not limit the girls' interactions and would not hamper the learning experience the girls would have.
To understand the girls and be able to better relate to them, all the video content is created and scripted by teachers, but would be recorded by other girls of a similar age group, but from all the communities we are targeting to create relatability and support peer-learning. These would include low-income, middle-income, upper-income, LGBTQI+ and marginalised groups including refugees, internally displaced, out-of school, teen moms among many others. The content would all be free for the girls to use and would address the challenge of access and relatability.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Increase the number of girls and young women participating in formal and informal learning and training
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
The challenges of learning for girls and women globally can be attributed to many issues, but safety and culture (tradition/stereotypes) are two big ones. Globally, the safety and security for girls and women in learning institutions and in general is 'average' at best, irrespective of social or economic factors. Similarly, the number of women and girls in STEM is still low with 'culture' leading to systemic marginalisation. #SomaNasi is working to keep or increase the number of girls and women participating in formal and informal learning and training by creating environments where safety and culture do not have a say.
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Central, Kenya
What is your solution’s stage of development?Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community
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 application of an existing technology
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
#SomaNasi deploys technology that is current but has not been brought together to create a single solution. These solutions are a learning management system, social networking tools, geotagging and adaptive learning. By bringing all there together, an opportunity to provide a virtual learning platform that enables peer-driven support becomes a reality. This, in addition to the video learning content that caters for the entire education curriculum, would be a strong stage for girls and young women to create their own learning path.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Kytabu is a digital education suite that comprises of a school management system, learning management system, social networking platform, mobile apps for parents, teachers and students, and supports SMS text to create a virtual learning reality for education systems. Using deployed big data and adaptive learning technoloGY, Kytabu applies behavioural science technology to a social networking underpinning our app for students. This helps us create virtual learning communities built on the student class and geolocation that can support their learning goals.
Provide evidence that this technology works.
White papers on adaptive learning and beahvioral sciences in the advancement of learning are common place with Byju's Learning app, Ruang Guru and Knewton deploying them in their learning journeys. Some links that have guided our approach are listed here.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
Our theory of change is driven by the virtual relationships created on the learning platform. We believe that because of the virtual groups created on the platform and the singularity of the learning goals created, our users will be motivated to participate and keep using the platform to grow both their knowhow and engage with the community.
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?
We currently serve 57 schools with 26,700+ students and 18,725 teachers. With COVID-19 closing down so many schools, we are in the process of working with the Kenyan Ministry of Education and Mastercard Foundation to increase this number fo roughly 250 school and 894,700 students in Kenya as well as growing to Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Our goals for the next five years are to reach the five east african countries with our technology. Our partnership with Mastercard Foundation that is supporting the Ministries of Education in each of these countries is a valuable asset and we are leveraging this relationship get into those countries.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
The two biggest challenges are the difference in curriculum and funding. Educational content creation that would be adequate and relevant to the diverse groups of students we reach is expensive and multifaceted in its complexity both because of the cultural nuances and the challenges of pedagogy.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
We are creating local country offices and hiring local staff as a start to make sure the expertise is localised and well accustomed to the country they are in Additional training is constant and our success in one country helps us create best practise for the next country.
What type of organization is your solution team?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many people work on your solution team?
Full time staff - 13
Part time staff - 10
Contractors - 21
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Kytabu’s leadership team has accrued 60 years of experience in EdTech, TelcoS, content creation, personal development and platform development with proven results that have changed the Kenyan technology landscape over the last decade. The key company leaders are:
● Tonee Ndungu (CEO) - Founder of the NAILAB which he left after 5 years and $5 million raised for the Kenyan technology ecosystem. He has strong expertise in platforms and digital education being dyslexic himself and and MsC in Organizational development.
● Lie Njie Craige (CTO) - A 15 year experienced software engineer with experience ranging from the US Whitehouse healthcare platform (Obamacare), system infrastructure design and rural technology deployment. Lie has a commendation for his work from both the US and Ugandan governments in technology-for-good projects.
● Joy Wojiambo (Chief Content Creation - CCC ) - With a background in Journalism and management, Joy has run projects in Dadaab and Kakuma for UNHCR-Kytabu engagements. Creator of Kytabu’s COVID-19 project creating 4,500 videos with 15 continent creators and 15 teachers as an intervention for education called #somanasi, she is the foundation on which Kytabu’s growth has been set.
● Paul Mugambi (Board Chair) - Former Kytabu CEO and current Board Chair Paul Mugambi is the former Director of VAS at Equitel and Safaricom, credited with Skiza Tunes, M-Kopa and Okoa Jahazi projects that he oversaw. He leads a board of engineers, content creators, PhD holders and doctors that watch over and add value to Kytabu from their wealth of knowledge.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Mastercard Foundation - A deployment partner and part of their first EdTech cohort in Africa.
KenyaN Ministry Of Education - A deployment partner and part of their COVID-19 intervention partner supporting 2500 schools with free edtech software for 2020.
RefuSHE - Deploying a refugee and vulnerable groups learning platform in Kenya.
What is your business model?
Kytabu started as a mobile application for students to access textbooks, audiobooks and videos curated from around the world that would support and supplement the content students learnt in class. Kytabu has grown and built solutions for content delivery for students and teachers on web and mobile devices. Our custom built in-house Kytabu Learning Management System (KLMS), Super-School Management System (KS3) and apps for parents, teachers and students are quickly growing across thousands of users in the education technology space in Kenya. By charging for these services as an SaaS subscription, Kytabu will make its revenue from the number of users and schools it gets.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Organizations (B2B)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
We are currently providing our services as an SaaS an will be profitable with the clients we have by April 2021.
Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The Experian Prize to advance your solution?The number of COVID-related redundancies among women, who held a majority of junior positions in the education, arts and entertainment industry in Kenya, has been disproportionately more than that of men. The women and girls in our Girls-4-Girls program that will create content and engage with young girls during this COVID out of school period are from this group. More than half of the 150 women we are hiring to support our work are single mothers or from single income households. The Experian Prize focuses on financial health of workers most affected by Covid-19. Access to good jobs for these professional women and supporting the Girls-4-Girls programs that include financial literacy and employability is in line with The Experian Prizes’ goals.