M-Shule : Facilitate learning through SMS
Founded by Claire Mongeau, M-Shule is a startup that aims to make it easier and more affordable for every child in Sub-Saharan Africa. M-Shule is Africa’s first adaptive learning platform available to students through SMS.
Introduce yourself and your journey. How did you get the idea to start your business?
My name is Claire Mongeau and I am the CEO of M-Shule (meaning “mobile school”). After completing university, I spent many years working in education in lower-income contexts around the world – with low-cost private schools in India, with students from native reservations in the US, and with a chain of affordable private schools in Kenya. Across these experiences I found there was a common thread – there are so many dedicated educators, students, and families that just don’t have the right resources to give each child their path to success. I looked at the innovative, adaptive learning companies using apps and the web around the world, and realized we could combine those high-tech impacts with a simple SMS interface to provide personalized tutoring to every student on the continent. Thus, M-Shule was born.
What is your project and its mission?
M-Shule aims to make it easier and affordable for every child in Sub-Saharan Africa to follow a personalized path to success, in primary school and beyond. M-Shule is Africa’s first adaptive learning platform available to students through SMS. We use artificial intelligence to analyze what a child knows and deliver what they need to learn next all through messaging, based on their learning profile, curriculum standards, and educational needs. As we build the students’ concept mastery, we then provide parents and schools with real-time reports, insights, and analytics to power better instruction.
Can you introduce your team?
We are currently a team of 10 education, tech, and business professionals who are passionate about transforming learning outcomes through education innovation. M-Shule’s CTO, Julie Otieno, comes from a strong background in building SMS learning systems, creating adaptive learning chatbots, and closing the technological gap – to bring powerful innovations to people who haven’t necessarily used any technology in their daily lives before. The rest of the team is truly diverse – we have a former head teacher and school management coach, a social worker, a finance professional, and more – which allows us to draw from the best practices across sectors. M-Shule’s success is truly thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of the team.
What is the problem solved by M-Shule?
Parents and schools across Sub-Saharan Africa want to invest in their students’ learning. Even beyond school fees, the market for supplementary education tools like tutors, extra materials, and help outside of class is $2.5 billion or more across the continent. But.still primary students are falling behind – less than 10% of students that enroll in primary school will make it to university (Brookings Institute). Standard content in the classroom and in external tools doesn’t address every student’s learning needs; learning communities need access to personalized, quality tools to reverse learning trends.
What are the next steps ?
During our pilots this year, we proved that adaptive learning can work for primary students even with a feature phone – something no one has ever done before. We partnered with 400 learners from 15 low-income schools in Nairobi and saw our users increased subject exams scores significantly over non-users.Then we opened up to new schools, and saw strong net promoter effects as we doubled school partners in one month purely through referrals.
Now, we aim to focus on product development and scale across Kenya, and then across the rest of the continent. We are just at the beginning of the journey but we are incredibly excited by where we can go from here!
What do you need and how can Seedstars / AfrikaTech help you?
We are looking for seed funding to help us in our scale. We are also looking for strategic partnerships with local governments, schools, school chains, and other learning institutions to help us improve our product and reach as many learners as possible. We welcome any and all connections who can help us achieve our goals.
What are the contacts of the startup? Website, email, Mobile / WhatsApp, links to social networks?