Solomon King Benge, the Founder of Fundi Bots, has announced that the edtech startup has raised more grant funding. “It gives me great joy to officially announce that Fundi Bots has a new funding partner,” Solomon wrote on his LinkedIn.
When I contacted him, Solomon declined to disclose the funding amount as well as the funder. “I can not disclose that because it is part of the terms of the agreement,” he told me.
Though upon insistence, he informed me that it is a grant and the funding partner is US-based. “We are a non-profit, so all our funding is grant,” Solomon said.
Currently with operations – in form of outreaches – in Northern Uganda, according to Solomon, this will go to strengthening that.
“Over the next 12 months, this funding will allow us to open up a fully functional Fundi Space in Gulu to solidify our presence and extend our outreach to even more schools in Northern Uganda,” he wrote.
He is also looking to strengthen another arm of Fundi Bots that’s focused on girls called Fund Girls.
“We are going to increase our Fundi Girls outreach which has been going on. But this is going to allow us to engage more female teachers, engage more girls in school.”
They will also now focus on expanding into Western Uganda as well as exploring a new curriculum.
“Additionally, we’ll begin our outreach to Western Uganda (hooray!). Most importantly, we’ll also embark on the next – and most critical – phase of our work, the Fundi Bots Enhanced Science Curriculum.”
Founded in 2011, Fundi Bots has been mainly grants funded. In fact, Solomon told me that he was only able to start full operations in 2014 after securing grant funding from Echoing Green and Ashoka.
Echoing Green granted him US $40,000 per year for two years. While Ashoka’s was a “personal stipend”, as he called it, to allow him as a fellow to “focus on [Fundi Bots’] work”.
Beyond Uganda, the startup is exploring the possibility of extending their operations to Rwanda and Tanzania.
“[In] Tanzania, we have a partner and [in] Rwanda we are exploring [possible] partnerships,” Solomon told me. Though, they are still going back and forth with training as well – especially in Tanzania.
“We provide the tools, robotics, we provide assistance and more. But these two are not at a stage where I can say we have a presence [in Tanzania].”
Being a not-for-profit venture, I was curious to understand how they are planning to address the future financial sustainability challenges. “We do generate revenue even though we are not a for-profit,” Solomon said.
Though he admitted that sustainability is a question that can only be answered in the long-run.
“Sustainability is a long-term play. So we are looking at different options. Part of it is working with schools that pay for our program and then we use that money to do outreach to the less privileged schools.”