Finweek English Edition - - FEEDBACK - Eu­gene Beetge

ab­sence of the schools or Govern­ment tak­ing ini­tia­tive. Well, that is a con­tra­dic­tion in terms, it seems to me.

Over the last three years we have de­vel­oped three prod­ucts that could change ed­u­ca­tion, all within a well-known brand we es­tab­lished. These prod­ucts were de­vel­oped af­ter se­ri­ous mar­ket re­search and all three are bril­liant in their sim­plic­ity and aimed at all school grades as well as col­leges, and are fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing con­tent to learn­ers and teach­ers alike. They weren’t de­vel­oped in seclusion by an IT com­pany − they were de­vel­oped with es­tab­lished part­ners in the in­dus­try and feed­back from the var­i­ous mem­bers of the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, and now we are try­ing to punt them.

With our prod­ucts we solve ac­cess to con­tent; we solve the print-book prob­lem and many more. We have done prac­ti­cal mar­ket tests at schools and have in­creased in one week an av­er­age sci­ence and maths un­der­stand­ing for three grade 12 classes, in­creas­ing the per­cent­age of learn­ers who passed from 22% to 67%. This was achieved through a win­ter school pro­ject with Curro.

Yet, af­ter hav­ing con­sulted over 200 schools and col­leges over the last two-year pe­riod, and be­lieve me, we have seen it all and re­sponded to ev­ery ques­tion you can think of − af­ter all of that, two schools have ac­tu­ally adopted their old ways [of ed­u­ca­tion] and have placed some form of a pur­chase or­der. So schools them­selves won’t do, let’s et’s move on… We all know w in to­day’s econ­omy, omy, if you don’t have h con­firmed profit in the bag with zero risk and huge re­turn, the in­vestors run for the hills. We have seen 18 in­vestors over two years, with solid prod­uct, mar­ket and sup­ply chain in place, and all they want to see is no risk. It seems a lit­tle feather in their re­spec­tive caps to sim­ply say they are look­ing at in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion. Ac­tu­ally in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion seems to be just talk. Af­ter two years, we have been un­able to raise a measly R1.8m, an amount lower than what most pri­vate schools pay for mar­ket­ing. A measly amount that could change ed­u­ca­tion and fur­ther the whole in­dus­try, and even if it doesn’t work as planned, is still too high a risk for any in­vestor to take a chance on. The so­lu­tions are out there, but the mar­ket and users need to ma­ture and grow into what’s avail­able. In­vestors’ money will sim­ply have to be used to fi­nance this wait­ing game. How­ever, in­vestors don’t want to spend money on wait­ing and so money spent on recre­at­ing so­lu­tions that ex­ist al­ready. I’ve seen it dozens of times now over the last three years.

At the mo­ment all I feel is frus­tra­tion and when I read your ar­ti­cle, it sim­ply lit my fire.

(Let­ter short­ened.)


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