This week we published Accessible and Affordable EdTech with Eneza Education’s Wambura Kimunyu.
Eneza Education is a tech company creating impact at scale – they are currently serving over 2 million students across Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Rwanda – and they are doing so with basic mobile technology. They digitize local curriculum into bite-sized, text-based modules that are sent out via SMS. And 70% of their customers are in rural areas!
And an incredibly interesting question – one that Wambura and I discuss in this episode – is how to grow along with your users. Eneza is meeting their customers where they are today – with basic mobile phones and 2G coverage – but is paying attention to their growth to be ready to serve them with new products once more of their customers, for example, become smartphone users.
Listen to the full episode here.
Unicorns and Flywheels
Flutterwave – with the announcement of their $170 million fundraise, pushing their valuation over $1 billion – is a unicorn. What next? An IPO in New York is the goal.
And until then, what of the impact for the ecosystem?
The tech ecosystem flywheel is spinning –
And undoubtedly, billion dollar valuations spin this flywheel faster.
Back in Season One of the podcast, we asked if the Silicon Valley style of venture capital is appropriate for the African tech ecosystem, and if not, what model(s) were a better fit.
It’s a question not just for those in ecosystems outside of the US, but for those inside, as well.
I’m an admirer of Indie VC – an investment firm that took an experimental approach to funding high-growth startups who didn’t fit into or didn’t wish to raise from traditional venture capital. The premise was that there were,
“venture scale opportunities going overlooked or overfunded who might have a higher likelihood of reaching their full potential if they had a different path to follow and a community of likeminded operators and advisors to share that journey with.”
Unfortunately, Indie VC announced that they are shutting their doors to new investments, in part because of a lack of institutional support to scale the Indie businesses they wish to back, and in they way they wished to back them. Indie’s founder, Bryce Roberts, this week published an article, What Ended Indie, summarizing their challenges.
A big challenge was narrative, and how outsiders framed what Indie was trying to achieve – a false narrative that Indie = slow growth.
“Despite a portfolio with many companies growing revenues 3x to 10x yoy and several putting up low to mid-eight figures of revenue that “slow growth” narrative is one we’ve been unable to shake. There seems to be no room for nuance in a discussion about funding, growth, and ambition. It is, apparently, a package deal.”
Despite the benefit of $1 billion valuations for the ecosystem flywheel above, Bryce’s article – and its cautions about nuance and narrative – feels especially prescient for the African tech ecosystem, where growth has historically been slower.
Slow growth doesn’t mean moving slowly. It just means build differently, or perhaps more appropriately for the environment in which one operates. Bryce writes,
“These are not slow-moving or unambitious individuals. But they are often in markets that are out of favor, or come from demographics that are wildly underrepresented in venture-backed startups, or, believe it or not, they just don’t want to build the way the startup world tells them they have to.”
Thanks for reading,