Injini is an education-technologies incubator, a sort of support system for startup businesses focused on new technologies and new teaching methods to suit the information age. Set in South Africa, the company trains, consults, and invests in new companies from throughout Africa.
Injini means “engine” in the Zulu, Xhosa, and Swahili languages. And the company is an engine helping African companies by providing early-stage capital and targeted advice on how to grow quickly.
“We believe that education will be the great engine of Africa’s future development. It will be local education innovations that help solve Africa’s education problems and realise the huge potential for richer economies and stronger societies across the continent,” says the organization’s mission statement.
Access to the internet is scarce, with only three out of 10 people in Africa having internet access. However, the group Injini is currently working with, which includes three companies from Nigeria (notable because of that nation’s very young population), is heavily focused on education via phone and apps. Mobile phones, both smart and otherwise, dominate Africa’s tech scene, and many educators want to have more resources to use their phones for student lessons and teacher training.
In the current cohort, a company called Langbot created an add-on to use with Facebook Messenger to teach language through games and conversation with an AI. Learning Factor, from Zimbabwe, is developing a solar-powered server to deliver teacher resources in energy-poor areas. Nahana Afrika is a South America training program to beef up teachers’ science mastery.
With Injini, each company receives approximately $40,000 US, including the value of the incubator’s support resources. They’re also assisted in seeking additional investment, and many of the companies are for-profit. The last class of startups have so far gathered an average of $300,000 in outside investment, and collectively generated around $1 million in revue, according to Jamie Martin, who founded Injini.
Educational technologies is a growing field worldwide, with an estimated $9.5 billion invested in the field in 2017. While the majority of edtech investment is in China, markets around the world are on their way to catching up. With Injini and companies like it, Africa is certainly making its own impact.
Photo: In Zimbabwe, two African schoolboys use a cell phone. Credit: CECIL BO DZWOWA / Shutterstock.com