Educating and being educated it’s a procedure that never gets old regardless of one’s age. We have had schools and learning platforms for sharing knowledge and capacity building of different forms and mediums. Nevertheless, with technology in place, the learnings have moved beyond traditional classroom courses with the existence of e-learning platforms. Such is the case with an e-learning platform, popularly known as Smart Class Tanzania that began in January 2019 with a call to empowering teachers and drive students’ growth through innovative digital solutions.
Through Smart Class learners are able to connect with qualified and affordable tutors/experts. Smart Class has three Co- founders, Salvatory Kessy, Adam Duma and Seraphine Kimario. In an interview with Tech & Media Convergency (TMC), Adam Duma shared the story behind Smart Class, the inspiration, how their provided services work and where they are heading. Their tagline is Teach or learn anything at your own pace. They are located at University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).
The Attended Problem and Inspiration Behind
Smart Class is focused on building a well engaging platform where people can share knowledge and learn from one another, platforms such as these are rare in Tanzania and they intend to bridge the gap that exists in the Ed-tech sector.
When it comes to the inspiration behind, he says “I remember in my high school days, Salvatory used to be my tutor and at that time he was a university student at UDSM, being smart in class inspired me to embrace the culture of teaching others, so after completing my high school studies and being the best in science subjects in Tanzania it paved a way in getting enrolled at the University of Dar es Salaam and during my university years I used my ample time to teach others for the purpose of earning income. Adam adds “Since the three of us were well vetted tutors we thought if the demand is this big why can’t we start a platform that will be able to connect tutors like us to students across the city and Tanzania as well, Years later Smart Class is up and running.”
Investing on the Idea
By the time when they were ready to execute the idea, the three co-founders; Adam who was good in Sales and Marketing, Salvatory who was good in Managing and Seraphine who was good at Programming combined their complimentary skills and decided to invest in their personal savings. Along the way things turned for the better, they were lucky to secure 5000 dollars from Tony Elumelu Foundation at the beginning of their journey and now few of which they receive money from are the Common Wealth, University of Dar es Salaam and University of South Wales from Australia where Salvatory is doing his PHD.
How the Ed-Tech Web App Works
The Smart Class web app works differently for students and tutors. As for students one has to visit their web www.smartclasstz.com, before registering, the web app will ask you if you are either a student or tutor, once selected, you can register after that an email will be sent to you to activate your account, go direct to the platform and it will ask you what you want to study based on the categories provided once you click the subject it will come with information about the tutor like qualifications and pricings. Once you are satisfied with the information there is an option of sending a message to the tutor and it will be delivered to him/her and you’ll arrange everything from there whether one wants online tutoring or offline.
As for tutors they go into the same process the only difference is that they need to provide Smart Class with their academic certificates and have an interview to measure their qualifications and competence before having access to the platform as well as being assigned to a student for tutoring. Payment for tutors can be processed through the platform with options of mobile money such as M-pesa and A-Money or by credit card. Smart Class offers experts a platform to teach any course they have to over a thousand students. One can be working in a corporate company and have the skills and ability to teach about sales and marketing so Smart Class offers that opportunity.
The Marketing Strategy
Smart Class targets parents, students, tutors /experts and the way they reach their targeted customers it through referrals this has helped them get an increase of their customers because it favors a parent whose child is already registered in smart class. The parents get a discount of the money they pay for if they are able to refer another person to use the platform. At the beginning they used the door to door approach visiting different households in Tanzania for one and a half year but later moved to social media, the use of influencers and advertisements as well.
It’s Eco-System Positioning
Adam says “There are a number of similar initiatives in the Ed-tech industry but the way we provide our services is quite different from the rest, we have no limitations of a certain group of people, anyone with qualifications is able to tutor and share his or her knowledge and for students any person regardless of age or gender can enroll in the classes and be educated.”
“Our team complements each other in the way we operate, from the way we communicate to our customers and instill the belief of the product we provide, it is through this that our customers keep speaking of our platforms to other people for they have been satisfied with our services and seen the value of it.” He adds
Accomplishments so far
“To have someone pay for our services is our greatest achievement, also the feedback from customers and the testimonies of how Smart Class has helped a number of students get better grades in schools.”
Other accomplishments include, Securing partnership from University of Dar es Salaam, being recognized by the Common Wealth, being recognized by the African Union as top 50 Start Ups doing pretty well in Africa, becoming the winners at the Vodacom Accelerator program in 2020 and attracting a number of potential investors.
The Covid-19 Impact
As the pandemic hit in 2019, drastic changes took place such as schools being closed and parents searching for other means for their children to still study while being at home. Smart Class took advantage of the opportunity by providing students a place to learn, teachers the chance of maintaining their jobs by giving an opportunity to keep practicing in what they exceled in and parents an ease and reassurance of knowing their children are able to sustain their skills development during school closures.
Smart Class Next Step
It is Smart Class’s hope and belief that with a good seed capital they’ll get to be the leading e-learning platform in Africa that provides the best e-learning courses while managing the data associated with its tutoring classes in the most transparent and efficient manner.
To read more about our reports featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report