Education is crucial factor for any developing economy. In Africa however, this is a sector that has struggled to meet up with international standards. Statistics from UNESCO state that 38% of African adults (approximately 153 million) are illiterate, with women making up two-thirds of this number. We interviewed Dimeji Falana, cofounder of IT Vessel – a tech company and he shares how he is addressing Africa’s educational challenges using technology:
Tell us about yourself and the inspiration behind IT Vessel
I am a software Developer and a ’technopreneur’ with 9 years experience in server-side programming. The vision of ITvessel was conceived in 2010 to create a powerful and reliable technology brand to address African challenges starting with the education sector.
At what point did you decide to take the bold step into entrepreneurship?
I started my first business at age 19, a phone call center but it failed when I gained admission into University of Ilorin. By my third year in the university, I then decided to venture into Web and Software development. This decision happened in 2008, after my industrial work experience programme at Oak Computer Lagos as a student. The exposure during the program made me realize the enormous problems to solve with software development in Africa.
What opportunities do you feel exist in the education sector today?
There are various alarming challenges in the sector. At IT Vessel, we see opportunities in every problem. Some of these problems include:
- The majority of teachers, depend on the traditional teaching and recording methods and this creates inefficiencies and inability to reinvent the sector.
- Educators waste valuable time on repetitions and routines.
- School accountants in private schools experience difficulties on payment records.
- Parents lack efficient and simple means to pay school fees and track academic progress reports of their wards.
- Stakeholders depend on teachers to teach and implement the National Education Curriculum but fail to support and encourage them.
We see these challenges as opportunities and are solving them using Edves. Edves automates school activities including records from student enrollment, school fees payment, report card and graduation. At the moment, educators from over 200 schools in Nigeria use Edves to save time and money, deliver education and track growth.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how do you manage it?
Our biggest challenge so far at IT Vessel was when we experienced a two-week server downtime through a cyber attack about a year ago. My co-founder Dare Adebayo, and the rest of the staff remained strong and ensured we bounced back. However, this incidence happened shortly before we partnered with MainOne Cable Company, and this has given us a sigh of relief since we migrated to their Cloud Hosting.
How do you engage and create awareness about your brand to your target market?
First of all, we depend on our clients to offer us referrals. Secondly, we use social media to engage our target audience with stories of our fulfilled promises.
Can you comment on the education sector in Africa?
The education sector in Africa needs urgent attention from sincere stakeholders. Through Edves, we have started the long awaited journey to reinvent education in Africa and we will do this in partnership with other reliable stakeholders.
How does IT Vessel intend to impact this sector in the next 10 years?
In the next 10 years, Educators from over 10,000 Schools will deliver world-class education and track impact using Edves. We are on a journey to support educators to a point where their graduates will stand tall among their peers globally. Edves will focus on transforming teaching and learning through educators.
Any plans to expand your products and services to other parts of Africa?
Yes, we do. From our research, most African countries experience similar challenges and we plan to extend the solution to these countries.
What mantra do you live by that motivates you as an entrepreneur?
Get the job done
Can you offer any advice to budding entrepreneurs?
“A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.” – Grace Hopper
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