Entrepreneurship Industry News

12 edtech startups teaching South Africans [Digital All Stars]

Digital All Stars is a series of articles which aims to celebrate the best of South African digital. The articles, which will appear on Memeburn and Ventureburn, recognise and celebrate South Africa’s best digital entrepreneurs, business people, advertisers, and media professionals among others.

The All Stars listed in the articles are compiled using a combination of our editorial team’s own knowledge, that of experts in the fields covered by each article, as well as public vote.

Education is a problem in South Africa, whether it be under-funded schools, a lack of teachers, or collapsing buildings. There are private organisations trying to tackle these problems and make education ‘easier’ for SA learners.

In this article, we feature some of the best SA startups who are tackling education through technology — whether they’re gaining traction, use algorithms, make parents’ lives easier, or have a range of courses available. The names are featured alphabetically by startup.

42 Courses

This edtech startup wants to change the way education is done by using a combination of story-telling and gamification for each of its courses. It was launched at the 2015 Web Summit in Dublin, and is founded by the ex-head of Innovation for Ogilvy & Mather in Africa, Chris Rawlinson.

Some of its courses include Social Media and Behavioural Economics, with the likes of How to Start a Start Up and The Internet of Things coming soon.

Clock Education

Clock Education looks to solve the education crisis through adaptive technology that enables personalised and self-paced learning. It creates these systems for a range of institutions across all sectors.

The company is founded by CEO Kolawole Olajide, who is an Anzisha fellow, the winner of a R500 000 SAB innovation prize, and featured in the 2015 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list.


Founded in Cape Town in 2013 by Tabitha Bailey, this SaaS edtech startup uses adaptive technology to assess the proficiency levels of students with the correct content for publishers and content creators. It also struck a deal with startup incubator Playlogix in order to build the software.

In 2013, the startup took the top prize at the Telkom Open Innovation Mega Challenge. In 2014, Daptio was named one of Africa’s top 10 most innovative companies by Fast Company, a runner-up in the Get in the Ring 2014 challenge, and participated in the Edupreneurship Programme.

FunDza Literacy Trust

Growing out of publishing house Cover2Cover Books, FunDza Literacy Trust is a non-profit literacy trust with an aim of making reading accessible and appealing to the youth of South Africa. In its early days, the service would serve specifically-commissioned teen fiction using the Mxit portal.

It was part of Media24’s ‘Giving You Space to Grow’ programme, a finalist in The Tech Awards and the 2014 WISE awards, and part of Project Isizwe.


Easily the poster child for edtech in SA, GetSmarter is based out of Cape Town and London. It was founded in 2008 by brothers Sam and Rob Paddock with its first course being in Wine Evaluation. GetSmarter’s courses are reviewed annually by the likes of Wits, Harvard, UCT, and Goldsmiths to make sure the content is always current.

In 2015, it partnered with CiTi to offer bursaries to entrepreneurial students, and according to the website has over 40 000 life-long learners, with their goal to reach one million by 2030.
Karri School Payments

This startup is a hybrid of fintech and edtech in the sector, with its first test having been run in November last year. The financial app allows parents to pay small amounts to the school and teachers, such as for civvies days.

The app is also backed by Nedbank, who has just concluded a partnership with it.

Paper Video

Describing itself as a social enterprise, Paper Video uses QR codes on previous exam papers. When students scan the QR code, they’re presented with a video helping them on the topic. It currently offers videos on accounting, life sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, physical sciences, and unimaths, across grades eight to 12 and post matric, depending on the subject.

One of its latest innovations is the Paper Video hub, which allows learners to stream 700 hours of help videos without the need of an internet connection. Paper Video is also one of the first startups to be part of the EdTech Open Innovation Cluster in Africa.
Rethink Education

Rethink Education is a mobile maths and science platform that allows learners to study anywhere, anytime. It was founded by Douglas Hoernle, who was inspired by Khan Academy.

The startup has partnered with quite a few high-profile partners, such as Naspers, Allan Gray, Microsoft, and even Mxit before it shut down.

Read More: ventureburn.com