Allan Ong’ang’a is a beneficiary of the Kenyan education system. Growing up, he says classes were always packed and sometimes students had to squeeze in up to three people per desk. The system was exam-based and teachers were more concerned about covering the syllabus rather than making sure students had good grasp of the concepts. For students who were never blessed with sharp memory and agile intellects, it was a ticket to despair. The system has not changed much more than 20 years later. Taking his children to school last year made him realize that the approach needed a re-think.
Kenya’s education system does not adequately prepare students for the working world. According the 2016-2017 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, Kenya ranks 114th out of 138 countries on primary education and 97th on higher education. This is largely because schools are focused more on rote memorization than critical thinking, and national examination scores determine whether students progress to secondary and tertiary education. Students in schools face large class sizes, with public schools averaging 40 students per class. Teachers are unable to give the individualized attention necessary to ensure that students perform well on the national examinations and are therefore able to continue their education.
Furthermore, niche subjects required to be globally competitive are not mandatory in the national curriculum and therefore not taught in most schools. For instance, to interact with Francophone Africa, Kenyans need to be able speak French, but French instruction is only taught at 120 schools in Nairobi and very few schools outside of the capital, which are either private schools with extremely high tuition fees or public high schools with extremely low acceptance rates. Allan had a mission, and he set out to solve this problem through an online platform – Elimisha
Elimisha helps students find nearby expert tutors who offer tailored instruction through an online platform. The tutor-learner interaction is at the center of his offering; using technology to make this process easier and smooth. There is a lot of value in in-person coaching for students seeking to improve their grades or learn niche skills as this differs from MOOCs and SMS-based learning platforms which do not provide for an in-person, individualized offering.
Allan and his team have also priced their offering below what freelance tutors in the market currently offer, making it an affordable option for students. At the same time, tutor earnings on this platform are at par or higher than what they are making currently per hour due to increased utilization.
Though innovation, Elimisha is the first marketplace for students and tutors that focuses not only on providing extra coaching to students who want to meet their academic goals but provide access to high calibre tutors for persons with disabilities.
Allan’s offering Elimisha is gradually becoming a household name for those in need of quality tutors, but this has happened largely due to the wealth of experience Allan and his team have brought to bear. He has more than seven years of experience in sales from telecommunications to social enterprises and co-founders; one who has years of experience in finance for various organizations and is a member of the local accountants professional body and another co-founder who has more than 10+ years in corporate management and project management helping businesses for social good determine their corporate and marketing strategies and a team of advisors including a Global consultant and others with experience in consumer technology companies, market research and project management.
Driven by a mission to provide easy access to high calibre tutors to students in need of individualized coaching. Elimisha approach recognizes the power of market-based approaches in solving critical social problems like lack of access to basic rights such as education. However, Allan and his team go beyond this mission by providing high calibre tutors to students in need of help for core and niche subjects and as well recognizing the challenges that persons with disabilities go through in trying to make something of themselves and making available specialized tutors for them. Elimisha tutors, in its effort to help contribute to the social development goals, is not taking any commission fees for sessions conducted for persons with disabilities. Tutors get to keep 100% of their earnings and students get to access the same quality as other normal students.
This model of education recognizes the need and importance of human capital and how it can be channelled to accelerate socio-economic growth. Elimisha Tutors is not only focused on those it can hire directly but creates more indirect employment as compared to those who their payroll can absorb. Allan says he has a goal of creating employment for 1000 tutors by the end of 2017 and increasing this number to 5000 tutors by the end of 2019. This will help employ graduates from colleges who currently have to wait for an average of four years to find employment. Through Elimisha they will be working at their own convenience for an hourly rate of $5, which is above the market rate of $4.30. Through his offering more students in Nairobi, will stand to benefit by having access to, individualized tutoring at a time of their convenience and at a price below market rates. There are 50,000 children of school-going age with disabilities in Nairobi alone, he hopes to scale up enough to provide access to convenient learning for this segment of users at a subsidized rate.
Doing business is however not without challenges as Allan says his biggest challenge so far has been product development and the need to innovate. “At Elimisha, we are driven more by the need to avail an exceptional customer experience rather than a product that is long on technical specifications but short on user experience. Achieving a product of such quality requires capital investments.”
Interestingly this challenge has is gradually easing off for Elimisha as Allan says the training resource from 12-week learning program of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program was a huge push in the right direction. The program he says also helped him see the business from a different angle. “The TEF program helped me see business differently and as a result, the customer problem changed, as I had to test and validate with potential customers. The solutions changed as well. The funding has been a major boost in helping develop the our product and other operational costs. These would have taken much longer to realize without the support from Tony Elumelu”
Elimsha is aggressive on its growth as its eyes are set on conquering the East African digital space before embarking on a pan-African expansion plan.
To learn more about Elimisha’s offering, please visit: Website: http://www.elimishatutors.co.ke, Staging site: http://staging.elimishatutors.co.ke, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com,Twitter: @elimisha_tutors; Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Elimishatutors; LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/Elimishatutors