Syafunda, a South African edtech startup that provides access to digital content through mobile technology, has raised ZAR2.5 million (US$140,000) to scale its platform to meet the growing need for online learning in the country.
The Durban-based startup received the funding from Edge Growth, a fund manager that invests in high-growth small enterprises.
Founded in 2013 by Zakheni Ngubo, Syafunda, which translates to ‘We Are Learning’, provides access to digital content through mobile technology. Started out of personal experiences where there was shortage of textbooks and math and science teachers, the startup aims to solve these challenges by capitalizing on South Africa’s high mobile penetration rate.
Syafunda partners with local content developers and publishers and sets up digital libraries in areas where connectivity is limited or nonexistent. These digital libraries come with five terabytes of pre-loaded content and emit Wi-Fi hotspots so anyone in the vicinity with a mobile device can access and download the learning material without having to pay for internet.
Explaining his personal experiences and mission of the startup, Zakheni Ngubo, Founder and CEO, Syafunda, said in a statement,
“I grew up in townships where there was a shortage of textbooks and math and science teachers. I wanted to solve those challenges and provide digital access for high school and post-high school students. Syafunda is positioned to reach pupils in under-serviced communities throughout South Africa.”
Syafunda provides digital content for high school and post-high school students, with a focus on STEM subjects and entrepreneurship, digital skills, financial literacy and more to bring education to all. The startup claims to be currently working with over 70 schools, with 1,689 registered teachers and 47,340 learners on its platform.
With the new funds, Syafunda looks to meet the increasing demand for online learning it witnessed as a result of COVID-19 pandemic by developing its new online bookstore, which will allow students to rent digital copies of textbooks.
Commenting on the investment, Edge Growth’s lead dealmaker Vuyiswa Nzimanda said,
“The partnership with Syafunda would over the next five years make an impact that goes far beyond job creation. The strength of the operations and development teams shows in the quality of the innovation in the free-to-access Syafunda Digital Library Ultimately, we believe that learners will improve the likelihood of entry into higher learning institutions and training/tertiary institutions.”
Meanwhile, prior to this funding, Syafunda is said to have raised over ZAR2.5 million, which include ZAR1.5 million from SA SME Fund CEO Ketso Gordhan in 2015, ZAR1 million from Injini edtech accelerator in 2017, and ZAR250,000 from Simanye, a BEE consulting company.