UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate: ilhasoft
UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate: Kimetrica

Delivering accessible, digital content for teaching and learning in Africa.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is proud to see portfolio member, ekitabu — graduate. They’ve come a long way – from numerous product iterations, to deep diving into understanding their ecosystem better, strengthening their business model, and gearing up to take their solution to market. They’re now ready to collaborate at a larger scale – as they find new pathways to work with partners, investors, and the open source community.

Student at Thika Primary School for the Visually Impaired in Kenya reading accessible storybooks using eKitabu’s e-reader app

Reflections from the ekitabu team:

Graduating from the UNICEF Innovation Fund, our open source, cross-platform e-reading system has scaled from 711 schools to 1,200 schools, from 4 African countries to 13, and our revenue grew to over $1M.  We’ve also been able to collaborate with private sector leaders in publishing, devices and cloud services: Pearson, Samsung, Microsoft, MTN, Google, and we won 2 USAID / All Children Reading Grand Challenges for Inclusive Education. Through these collaborations, we’ve created a public private partnership Digital Literacy Trust with Benetech, DAISY, Education Development Trust, and Kenya’s leading publishers to scale impact in schools through accessible digital content for quality education.

What we’ve seen so far.

The teachers, students, and head teachers in special needs schools we work with in Kenya cite the lack of accessible books as the number one challenge they face. Further, the Government of Kenya estimates that of the 4 million Kenyans with disabilities, 2.8 million are children. Yet none of the materials produced for Kenya’s new 2018 curriculum are accessible for learners with a range of disabilities.

The opportunity we saw.

Kenya, where eKitabu was founded in 2012, is poised to transition to a digital value chain for books. The government’s Digital Literacy Programme is distributing tablets, laptops and content to every public primary school countrywide. At the same time, Kenya’s national reading program, Tusome, supported by USAID, DFID and All Children Reading, has laid the groundwork for transformation in literacy education, teacher training, and assessment.

In collaboration with the UNICEF Innovation Fund and UNICEF Kenya, eKitabu is developing open source tools to create accessible digital content and measure impact, leaving no one behind — providing inclusive and quality education for all.

eKitabu delivers accessible digital content to over 1,200 schools in 13 countries of Africa, dramatically lowering the cost of inclusive & quality education for all.

Key Benefits of eKitabu:

  • Guaranteed delivery of local content for quality education in Africa at a fraction of the cost
  • Open source and open standards for quality and accessibility by learners with disabilities
  • Sustainable revenues for local publishers and content developers in Africa.

What’s next?

In the next 12 months, we aim to raise $4M in equity to fund software development, team growth, and country expansion. We’ll continue to collaborate with UNICEF and partners — closing accessibility gaps we have identified. We also seek to collaborate with more implementers in Africa who are in need of local, accessible curriculum content.

UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate: ilhasoft
UNICEF Innovation Fund Graduate: Kimetrica