How did your education and previous professional experience shape your current work at Injini?
Like most people lucky enough to get a great education, it made me appreciate the importance of one. Having worked at the UK Department of Education, and after advising schools and education businesses around the world, I realized that African education had deep problems that would not be easily solved. Technology, while not a silver bullet, could be part of the solution and was very well-tailored to some of African countries' specific problems: learning at distance, a lack of good teachers, low-quality curricula not up to international standards, and people unable to afford in-person education.
How does Injini decide which companies to invest in?
We invest at a very early stage (some companies are pre-product), so we are largely backing the team and the idea. We look for talented teams (not single founders), ideas well-rooted in the practical realities of the market, a clear commercial model, and people we believe will be receptive to the program.
What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?
In Africa, it will be the existing provision not keeping up with demand in terms of both quality and quantity, and the increasing importance of knowledge-rich curricula, particularly in STEM education. We will need students with strong literacy and numeracy as well as more people who have read physics, maths, etc., at university. What we must not do is prioritize building skills over building knowledge; knowledge, which is timeless and can be widely applied, will be much more important going forward than skills, which are domain-specific and don’t always remain relevant.
What, if any, are future plans for Injini?
We are currently raising our second round of funding to run two more cohorts. We are also looking into doing more consulting work, such as market analysis for people looking to investigate African edtech, or helping people set up new incubators on education.
Who are the most interesting people you are following on Twitter?
I spend a lot of time on education Twitter – I hope most of it is used wisely! My top recommendation for international education would be Tom Bennet, founder of ResearchEd. Also, Professor Dylan William. For developing nations, Justin Sandefur, Sam Freedman, and Ben Piper.
Image: Courtesy Jamie Martin