Kenya’s Kidato Raises $1.4m to Take Quality and Affordable Education Across Africa
Kenyan education technology startup, Kidato has raised $1.4 million in a seed round. The investors who participated in the round include Learn Start Capital, Launch Africa Ventures Fund, Graph Ventures and Century Oak Capital. Angel investors also participated in the raise, according to the startup.
Kidato is an ed-tech startup that brings education to students in the comfort of their homes using an online platform built around Zoom. It was founded by Sam Gichuru in 2019.
The startup takes kids from ages 4 to 18 and enrolls them in classes based on its assessment of them as well as their prior educational records. Each school day contains 4 to 5 classes which are all taught online using the British curriculum.
The startup currently has about 730 students registered on its platform as well as a database of 1,427 parents. Not every student is in the full-time program, however. Some children take the after-school classes that teach extracurricular activities like chess, coding, art, music, sports and languages. The after-school classes cost $5 per lesson.
The student/teacher ratio in African public schools is 35 students to 1 teacher. In some countries like Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, the ratio is more disproportionate with over 50 students having to vie for the attention of 1 teacher.
Private schools tend to have a much lower ratio, going as low as 20 students to 1 teacher in Kenya. However, this education comes at a high cost to parents who want their kids to have a higher quality of education.
Since a major focus for Kidato is to make sure that students get enough attention from their teachers, the teacher-student ratio is kept at 5 to 1. This is achieved by putting between 5 and 8 students in a class and assigning a tutor to them. Kidato’s service is more affordable than the average private school.
“I have three kids. I moved them from private schools to homeschooling because that was the next option to give them the same quality of education but at an affordable price,”Sam Gichuru, Kidato Founder
The online learning platform was originally designed to provide a way for teachers to continue to teach their children when COVID-19 hit Africa in 2020. The model gained some popularity, and he scaled it to support 10 more students and in January 2021, the number of students had increased to 30.
A challenge for e-learning and other remote models is that people cannot have physical avenues to socialize unless it is deliberately planned. Kidato says this is the major challenge that it has because parents still want their kids to socialize and learn from meaningful exposure and interactions.
As a result, the startup is leveraging its connections with other industry leaders in Kenya to take students on monthly educational field trips.
Gichuru said, “We’re trying to show them how well kids socialize on our platform. We are partnering with companies that can make it possible to take these kids to plantations, factories, planetariums.”
Kidato is one of the African startups accepted into Y Combinator’s ((YC) 2021 winter cohort. It raised $125,000 from YC and is the only ed-tech startup in this cohort.
Another of Gichuru’s startups, KuHustle, was accepted into YC in 2015, however, the startup has not scaled as expected and is only making its service available to its current stream of users. He is also the founder of Nailab, a popular startup incubator in Kenya.
With his experience so far, Kidato’s founder is leading his team on a journey to take the startup to more parts of Africa. Since it needs no physical infrastructure for a school, it can spend less and offer more pay to teachers to increase its capacity for more students.