Last week, Uganda's Hindu Nabulumba made it to the finalist list for Africa Prize. This was because of, thanks to her, knowledge sharing innovation called Yaaka Digital Learning Network.
In our conversation with Hindu, we were able to establish how she has been able to keep her startup afloat in an environment where startup death is part of the day to day activities.
The aim of us approaching the Yaaka team was to comprehensively understand a couple of things. One of them was how they make money. According to Hindu, the startup is already making money.
Yaaka makes money through selling Yaaka tablet computers that now go for UGx.1.4m, access of material is free of charge online but downloading you have to pay money as well as offline installation - Hindu Nabulumba
The other critical issue that we wanted to understand was how the startup on-boards the teachers. It turns out to be a helluva of a job. If one applies online, they are by default students. They have to again re-apply on the website (not linked because by the time of writing it was down) to become instructors.
They are required to send in their profiles or CVs with recommendation letters. To ensure they're real, the Yaaka team does a follow up.
As of last month, the team estimates its student user-base at 35814 - a figure we were unable to understand if it is the monthly average or overall since inception.
When asked about what she plans to use the $10,000 that Yaaka recently won when they came in as runners-up at Africa Prize, she said they'll be focusing on pilots in schools.
Majority of the startup's funding has been through bootstrapping though - occasionally - they have had luck at winning grants and competitions. Some of them include the recently concluded ACIA, TEEP, and now Africa Prize by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
From our opinion, Yaaka should focus on improving the website because - as highlighted above - by the time of writing this we were unable to access it.