VENTURES AFRICA – In this week’s edition of Africa’s Most Innovative Companies we meet Youngsoul Synergy and Creations – a team dedicated to causing a tech revolution in Nigeria’s education sector. Omole Akinbiyi introduces us to Youngsoul’s latest product,360jobtest, which promotes and supports the young job seeking population of the West African country.
The key concept to Youngsoul’s work is to provide a platform and materials for individuals stepping into the job sector, helping them to win the best jobs through thorough preparation. In this vein, Youngsoul has developed a range of innovative products to boost Nigeria’s – and Africa’s – youth employment.
Akinbiyi explains the original tech-education product – which has already secured 100,000 sales: “Our Interactive DVD product (for SSCE and UTME)…is the first kind in Nigeria, and possibly Africa, that allows educational content to be deeply interactive using regular DVD players and TVs.”
However, Youngsoul has developed an even further innovation to revolutionise the job preparation process. 360jobtest allows users to prepare for job aptitude tests on the go via an application for mobile devices.
Akinbiyi explains the offering of the app, which already boasts 1,000 paid downloads per month: “360jobtest provides practice tests that simulate real-life conditions, showing user results in a bar graph and comparing their average results with cut-off marks of specific companies to tell them whether they are prepared for the real test or not.”
Akinbiyi remembers how the idea took off: “… when some of our friends began to prepare for their job test, we noticed the sheer amount of hours they studied on their phones. They could go for 5 hours straight. This happened even though they struggled with faltering internet connection and sparse resources online for practice. That was when the light bulb went off.”
According to the 360jobtest developers, technology is imperative in order to improve education, particularly in an African context: “The biggest problems of education are that of quality and access. Technology does a great job of providing top quality education to where it was previously unavailable,” says Akinbiyi.
He adds: “According to Sugata Mitra, an education researcher, the impact of education technology is far greater at the bottom of the pyramid than at the top. This is why as a company, we believe that it could have a more transformational effect in Africa than it is presently having in developed countries.”
Youngsoul is obviously a very ambitious company, looking to change the fate of the Nigerian and African education sectors. Akinbiyi looks to the future, saying: “We are building Youngsoul to be the foremost education tech company in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.”
“As a natural next step, we will be expanding our offerings by adding more professional exam apps. Also, we will be finding new uses for the level of interactivity our DVDs offer, like children education for example,” he reveals.
Of course, as with any start-up, Youngsoul has experienced difficulties and obstacles on its way to success. Akinbiyi notes that perhaps the biggest challenge to tech start-ups on the continent remains the matter of securing the necessary capital for expansion. In addition, he comments: “There are also many infrastructural bottlenecks that prevent easy market acceptance of tech products. An obvious example is the poor infrastructure for online payment.”
Considering his experiences of the start-up process, Akinbiyi has some potent advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “nobody cares what you are trying to do until you show them where the money is.”
He adds: “Your number one responsibility is to validate a huge market opportunity. Have that at the back of your mind always.”
Gabriella Mulligan is a journalist with a special interest in business and legal issues, having come to journalism following a successful career in consultancy. After completing her legal education at the esteemed law school at Cambridge University, and prior to that at the University of Kent, Gabriella went on to work for a “Big Four” financial and business services firm. She now enjoys writing on topical issues that affect businesses and the economy today. Gabriella is British and Hungarian. She has travelled widely, but harbours a passion for Africa and has made Nairobi, Kenya her home.