Humphrey Musila (24) is founder and CEO of African Tutor, an online platform offering students academic resources such as information on scholarship opportunities, fellowships, jobs and internships.
The US-based Kenyan student hopes to kill two birds with one stone by providing access to information on higher education and online tutorials, whilst at the same time creating jobs for fresh graduates to work as tutors on the platform.
He tells How we made it in Africa about his venture, mistakes he has made, and his most fulfilling moments in entrepreneurship.
1. Give us your elevator pitch.
African Tutor seeks to be a social enterprise to empower youth through education by making available to them useful information about institutions of higher learning, linking students to tutors and providing stationery such as books, pens and pencils to libraries and schools. Students can log on our website and sign up to get a tutor. Likewise, highly qualified graduates can apply to be tutors and be paid for their services. In this way we address challenges in education as well as employment. We are working to partner with more colleges and universities around the world, enabling students to access more educational opportunities.
2. How did you finance your start-up?
It was pretty simple. I sold the idea to my college mates. They were thrilled with the concept and in turn helped me raise money to register the company.
3. If you were given US$1m to invest in your company now, where would it go?
Having researched the apps in the Kenyan and African education sectors I think technology hasn’t yet been adequately utilised. Much is needed to transform the education sector. I’d invest in building a platform where African Tutor is able to offer quality online tutorials for students across Africa. This task needs substantial financing for the infrastructure, design and development of mobile apps.
4. What risks does your business face?
We require vibrant networking due to the target group. You find many youths lack the necessary resources to access our services. They include mobile devices able to connect to the internet, computers, laptops and internet connectivity. As a result, this poses a threat to the growth of the business.
5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
Getting my first client and receiving over 5,000 quality books from overseas to boost education in Kenya was a huge validation for my company – barely one month after starting. Despite a focus on making profits, African Tutor is a special company. It gives back to the community through making education accessible, especially in marginalised regions. In fact we have modelled our website to enable anybody, despite their location, to donate books and other useful academic resources through our website.
6. Your biggest mistake, and what have you learnt from it?
Much unavoidable time has been used on building our products and services. But the mistake has been issues of trust. Some people we had agreed would join the company went ahead and betrayed me. This happened because, as a student at a distant US university, I must operate many miles away from home. But I have learnt to take risks to maintain growth of the business. Currently I have good people, all dedicated to work for African Tutor.