Just in time for the Back-to-School season, we gather some hardworking startups using tech-based approaches for more inclusive educational methodologies.
In a social commitment to solve the world’s most pressing educational challenges, Arab entrepreneurs are taking the lead in turning technology into a tool to make education accessible, digital and relevant to the modern-day learner.
Just in time for the Back-to-School season, we gather select edu-tech startups that have been gaining the interest of various investment firms around the world, and are growing to become a scalable industry. Meet the some of the Middle East's brightest startups striving to make a difference and reshape future generations.
Nafham is a free online educational K-12 video platform that is linked to the official public-school curriculum. The Cairo-headquartered startup makes it easier for students to understand certain concepts using different approaches while providing 5 to 20-minute videos created by professionals. Additionally, Nafham’s content is segregated by subject, term, grade, and academic schedule, making it smoother for students to navigate through their user interface. Nafham was established in 2012 by Ahmed Alfi, Mostafa Farahat and Muhammad Habib in an attempt to provide a digitised approach to tackle major educational issues in Egypt, and has since then expanded to include major school curriculums in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Algeria. Lastly, the startup has received their seed round investment from Flat6Labs in 2012.
Almentor is an online video marketplace and the go-to content provider for Arab self-learners throughout the Middle East and Africa. Founded and based in the UAE, the cutting-edge platform offers video courses and informative talks, as well as personal learning and development courses, in both Arabic and English. Additionally, the platform curates top-rated training programmes and content created by industry experts. As for the learning process, the platform makes it easier for learners to indulge themselves in all-necessary knowledge with its guided curriculum and interactive delivery features. The startup is backed and funded by Sheraa Sharjah, which serves as the lead investor.
Lamsa, also known as Lamsa Kids’ World, is a top-notch digital service tailoured for children. The Saudi Arabian platform delivers a wide array of content varying in type and context such as interactive stories and games, as well as an entertaining and interactive learning experience for toddlers aged 1-3, preschoolers aged 4-6 and school-aged children aged 6-8. The platform offers a subscription-based model that is void of any advertisement or third-party content to provide a harmless and safe learning environment for children, which is available via a web and mobile-based application. The startup has raised a total of $500,000 in funding over 3 rounds, led by Dubai’s GINCO Investment firm.
Tutorama is an online tutoring marketplace that connects parents and students with excellent tutors. The Egyptian startup allows users to search for academically competent tutors by subject or location, view tutor profiles and reviews, manage billing and track academic progress. Tutorama was established in 2016 by Omar Khashaba and has since gone to win the 2016 MIT EF Pan Arab Startup Competition. As a leading force and solution provider to one of the region’s underlying main issues, Tutorama’s technology usage allows for the digitisation of a widely-populated learning tool. The startup received an undisclosed funding investment from A15 back in 2016.
PraxiLabs is an online STEM-education provider that offers 3D interactive virtual simulations of science laboratories. The Egyptian startup was established in 2016 by Khadija ElBedweihy and aims to provide an equal opportunity for students and educational institutions that could benefit from technological enhancements in their traditional education system. PraxiLabs not only provides an immersive virtual experience but adds enriching content that offers more understanding and hands-on knowledge. The startup raised a seed round funding in September 2018 by Katapult Accelerator, and has since received the presitigious Next Billion Ed-Tech Prize in March 2019.
Noon Academy is one of the fastest growing Edu-Tech startups in the Middle East, with over 2 million registered students. Noon Academy specialises in making an educational, engaging and affordable social learning platform that allows students to learn from peers, compete with them and initiate live on-demand study groups. Based in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the platform operates with a subscription or membership programme and offers tutoring for a variety of aptitude and placement tests. The startup recently closed their Series A round with $8.6 million from Raed Ventures in June 2019, and is planning for a massive growth global expansion.
Edraak is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform that is one of the initiatives established and financially backed by the Queen Rania Foundation since 2014. The Jordan-born platform presents a unique learning opportunity that leverages technology developed by leading tech experts at the Harvard-MIT consortium, edX. The platform aims to further enrich Arab education by giving access to Arabic courses taught by the best professors at no cost to the learner. The startup has since paired up with various educational institutions in the region such as Ajman University in Abu Dhabi to provide free online learning.
Ynmo is an award-winning educational Software as a Service (SaaS) product that allows service providers such as schools, centres and clinics to design and monitor individualised treatment plans that cater to children with disabilities. The Saudi Arabia-based platform serves its technological solution using medical research provided by experts in special education. The application was officially launched in 2017, and has since graced the global stage of Seedstars Summit in 2018 and walked away with a cash prize of $27,000 (100,000 Saudi Riyals) from MiSK Foundation, and is now qualified to represent Saudi Arabia at the Seedstars Global Summit 2019 in Switzerland.
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