By Henry Kronk May 17, 2018
Edtech in Nigeria and West Africa has greatly expanded in recent years. But, as an industry, it’s still very new to the region. When Dovichi and DoviLearn founder Okeke Vincent Chidozie was growing his businesses, he struggled to train his employees effectively.
This is the second in a series of articles on edtech startups in West Africa.
“I have been involved in several training programs, some as an attendee, and later as an organizer,” Chidozie said. “In this facet, I was able to identify challenges associated with physical classes and training [efforts].”
“Some of these challenges included timing convenience (for organizers and attendees), cost (for organizer and attendees), follow up on training classes (continuous engagement and learning), and location barriers, among others. As a matter of fact, I missed a very important [course] some 5 years ago. This specifically aroused my interest in alternative training. I spotted eLearning as a way forward.”
DoviLearn grew out of Chidozie’s existing company Dovichi, which focuses on digital marketing, among other things. They began with five online courses oriented toward professional training. Their offerings now stand at around 40 and many were made free of charge earlier this year.
“For users who have taken a free course on dovilearn,” Chidozie said, “they have the option to request a Certificate of Training Completion. This is totally optional for them, as they can decide not to request for it after completing the course. The Certificate of Training Completion goes for a small fee of N3000 ($9) and users are responding positively to it.”
“Giving students the option to learn for free and pay a small fee for Certificate of Training Completion is a totally new shift for the eLearning business. It’s somewhat unconventional, but it’s working positively for us.”
Chidozie’s model for DoviLearn tracks with many other eLearning providers. But DoviLearn courses were designed specifically for a Nigerian and West African context. Still, the same titles might be found on Udacity or Coursera. (“How to Make 10K USD Monthly Through Amazon Sales,” “Google AdWords Training,” “White Hat Hacking and Pen Tester.”)
Sam Bhaccaryya, CEO and co-founder of dot Learn (the subject of our first article in this series), recently conducted a poll of developers throughout Africa. He found that the majority of all African programmers who responded to his survey were self-taught.
“In Nigeria at the moment, we are currently facing a phase of tech-boom championed by startups,” Chidozie said. “I believe that some of the factors that led to this was as a result of unavailability of jobs in the country. Thus, people are resorting to other skill acquisitions as a way to empower themselves.”
Roughly half of Nigeria’s 182 million citizens are under 30. A wave of fintech startups swept the country starting in 2015. Companies like Flutterwave, Paga, and Paystack have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital. Considering Nigeria’s market relative to that of other tech hubs, that’s a lot of runway. Agritech, crypto trading, and ICT development have also made huge gains lately, all of which require adequate training.
“Aside from established education at primary, secondary and university levels, for skill acquisition, more people prefer to educate themselves,” Chidozie said. “Some of the major reasons for this include cost and convenience. Notwithstanding, there are still a good number of people who go for physical classes, but these are mainly the people in urban areas where most of these physical classes are conducted.”
“The reason for this is to enable them to combine learning and other personal activity such as work activity. They just want to survive, so they work, and learn other new skills.”