Scaling Expertise and Scaling Impact
Tonee Ndungu founded Kytabu, an education technology company that provides digital textbooks and educational resources for students in Kenya. Tonee won $150,000 in the 2015 African Entrepreneurship Award’s Education category to scale Kytabu and increase its impact. Kytabu meets the need in East Africa for affordable, up-to-date educational content for students, teachers, and parents.
Tonee, a serial entrepreneur, is not only succeeding with Kytabu, but, the innovator is scaling his brand as a consultant and motivational speaker on education and innovation. The results: better education, inspired clients, and positive impact on Kenya’s education sector.
Kytabu: An Innovative Solution for Education Barriers in Kenya
Kytabu provides solutions to some of the biggest barriers to education in Kenya. Finances and access. Tonee explains the challenges parents face in providing educational resources for their children. “In Kenya, an average family spends 45% of their disposable income on education for their children. Textbooks account for more than half this cost,” Tonee says. “And though the government provides free primary education, too many parents find the cost of textbooks prohibitive for them, and their families.” And, often once they do purchase textbooks, the content is out of date.
Textbook companies are ready to help be a part of the solution, and Kytabu provides the platform. Kytabu is a textbook subscription application, available on low-cost Android tablets and smartphones, purchased on a mobile payment platform.
The first step: Digitize. Tonee and his Kytabu team work with publishers to acquire their digitized content. Then, the content is installed on a cheap, solar-powered tablet. Access to the content is through mobile money payments, widely used across Kenya. Then, the door is open for students. They can rent textbook content hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on their needs. Alternatively, students can buy a page, chapter, or the entire book in its digital form, dramatically reducing costs. Tonee says the digital version “reduces the cost by 72%, and allows users to buy what they need, when they need it.”
Tonee explains how Kytabu is a win-win for all parties. For publishers, their income stream is steady and end users are happier. For buyers of the tablets (parents, schools, the government), Kytabu provides a much more flexible pay-as-you-go, mobile payment structure. And, for students, learning material is more relevant and engaging. Ultimately, Tonee says that “low-cost education now becomes more affordable, relevant and vastly integrated to today’s technology, and remains profitable for all stakeholders, all while being fun and productive.”