South African edtech startup FoondaMate is helping high school students in emerging markets to access revision material through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
According to co-founder Dacod Magagula, the choice of WhatsApp was informed by its wide reach, and affordability. FoondaMate uses chatbots to give students immediate answers to questions while allowing them access to revision papers.
Recently, the company secured $2 million in seed funding in a round led by LocalGlobe, the U.K.-based venture capital firm. This money is expected to help expand its reach by improving the WhatsApp and Facebook-based learning chatbots.
Magagula says he started experimenting with WhatsApp when the beta API was introduced in 2020, and he has been improving on the system over time.
“I thought it’d be a really good way to enable access to study materials to students in the same position as myself…because a majority of students do not have access to the wider internet but have access to WhatsApp.” Said, Magagula, a graduate of computer science from the University of CapeTown. “Also, a lot of network providers offer WhatsApp for free to attract users to their network.” He adds.
The platform has been used by more than 400,000 students using more than 10 languages in over 30 countries, among them Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia.
The co-founder who is also the company’s CEO and CTO said that the next phase of FoondaMate is localizing content to make it useful to more learners in more countries.
Part of the team’s work at FoondaMate is to vet the source of information and monitor results to ensure that children using the platform are safe.
The funding round was led y LocalGlobe, the U.K.-based venture capital firm. Other investors include, FirstCheckAfrica, Future Africa, and LoftyInc among others.
LocalGlobe partner, Ziv Reichert from LocalGlobe said, “FoondaMate has evolved into a tool that is now used and loved by learners from a range of backgrounds, with varying needs and learning styles, from all across the world. We believe that it takes immense empathy for a problem and a real long-term view to build a product of this kind.”