“We seek to curate content by taking context into account because the world we live in is not homogeneous.”
– Content Curator, Kagiso Mnisi
We live in an age of a thriving start up culture and Africa has, in recent years, become a breeding ground for innovations that take its unique context into account. Here at Eduze the technology is inspired by the potential that everyday people can reach given the tools. At the heart of our company’s campaign is quality content accessible to masses, be they in rural Limpopo, Lagos or Soweto.
Co-founded by Charlie Beuthin, Marko Nieminen and William Holm, Eduze’s main pride is its ability to deliver carefully curated and world class content through mobile technology all at no data cost to the user. The word ‘Eduze’ means ‘nearby’ in English and captures the essence of the idea to bring content libraries which are nearby to all.
It is Charlie’s childhood fascination of libraries that informed this idea. He maintains that his brainchild social enterprise merges his two passions; libraries and technology. In his words, “the greatest achievement thus far has been securing funding from TED.”
Upon entering our offices, you are greeted by the warmth of our Office Manager, Cherlene May, who started working for Eduze in October 2015.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO), William Holm, says he was excited about the idea of creating a financial model for such a business. “It sounded like a ground-breaking idea, which would curb the problem of access in Africa,” he said.
Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Marko, complements his partners through his technical know-how. Shedding more light on Eduze’s technology, Marko says “I make sure there is a smooth running of everything on the technical side. So, I handle the infrastructure and fix any technical glitches that may occur during the process of uploading content.” In this, Marko plays a mentoring role to Karabo Mphahlele to ensure effective results in programming applications.
So, what is the Eduze method of cooking?
In the words of content curator, Kagiso Mnisi, “We seek to curate content by taking context into account because the world we live in is not homogeneous.” Kagiso adds further, “Within the curatorial process is also the consideration to make the content have ‘heart’ and people focused be it corporate training for companies, agricultural practices for farmers or the kid in Nairobi who has a passion for digital art”
The five-part uploading process begins with acquiring content, then storing it, before curation and feeding the cloud. After that, the content is ready to be streamed on the Clox; an autonomous Wi-Fi based content portal.
Feeling a bit techno-confused? Let’s take you through it slowly
“Basically, the Clox is a little box, which is our storage for content. So – I write software on the Clox so that they work”, explains the soft-spoken Thabang Lekoane, who is a Junior Network Engineer at Eduze. Thabang also manages Raid & the server, “which is where all Eduze content ‘marinates and matures’”
The rest of the content team comprises of three funky coordinators, namely Xolani Mbatha, Andile Mpangele and Lina Moganedi.
“I love art and the digital world,” says Andile and Lina adds that she is already learning a lot because she was not digitally inclined before joining the team. The trio source content, which, according to Xolani needs “to take into account pop culture, politics, education and social trends.”
The education aspect is overseen by Bernita Naude, who devises strategy for education both from a content acquisition and a sales and marketing point of view. “This means finding ways to get maximum reach for the Clox into as many educational institutions as possible – resulting in the free education of potentially hundreds of thousands of learners and students” she further explains.
The content bus ultimately stops with Content Director, Gillian Ezra, who ensures that the content machine is well greased at a legal and executive level. She says; “My job involves working with the content that Eduze offers, and our content strategy. I work with every type of content – from movies to education, to games and music and right through to podcasts and video playlists.” Gillian is also an Intellectual Property lawyer and always needs to make sure that all content is properly licensed and that the rights of the content provider are respected.
Gillian also oversees the content strategized and posted on social media by myself (Ziphozakhe Hlobo). As a Social Media Manager, my vision is to create rejuvenating media content for Eduze’s virtual world, from education, to poetry, entertainment, innovation and Pan-Africanism, to mention just a few.
Account Executive, Sarah Theron’s “Exciting role involves sourcing new partners and business opportunity for Eduze to spread knowledge, entertain, inspire and provide a unique digital platform for brands to engage with consumers across sub Saharan Africa in a fast, reliable and cost effective way.”
From the passion and tenacity of the managers and team, it is clear that Eduze is headed for nothing but success.
Charlie’s advice to innovative entrepreneurs who want to identify gaps in the market is simple; “The issues you face everyday are what give you your business opportunity.”
A video of Charlie at CNBC News