“Our current education system can’t meet our demand,” Fehintolu Olaogun, tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Tutor.ng, told How we made it in Africa. “And a lot of people go out of the country to go and learn.”
The platform allows tutors, personal trainers, teachers and consultants to market their courses, at a fee, to anyone looking to acquire skills and knowledge in a particular area. The tutors can set the price required to take the course.
Courses range from advice on public speaking, starting and running a business, computer programming, fashion, and student exam preparation for subjects such as mathematics. Tutor.ng provides the tools for engaging e-classrooms with online whiteboards, documents, video and audio facilities, and the ability for instructors to create quizzes and chat live with students.
To date, the most popular courses have been in learning French, which Olaogun believes is addressing a demand in Nigeria from those looking to improve their business interaction with French clients, or travel more to French-speaking countries.
Launched in January this year, Tutor.ng offers a free trial period for tutors to test the market, and these courses are also free to learners. The aim is to attract users to experience what e-learning has to offer, explained Olaogun. So far the platform has registered around 5,000 users, with 2,000 being active. A mobile app allows learners to also participate in courses via their smartphones.
According to Olaogun, in five years Tutor.ng hopes to provide certified courses for learners both in Nigeria and across the African continent.
Introducing e-learning in Nigeria
“Part of our goal is ensuring that our courses are good enough on our platform,” said Olaogun, adding that they have had close to 100 courses registered so far, but only around a quarter are live. The rest are still developing sufficient digital content.
There is no minimum qualification requirement for tutors using the platform, but the quality of the content is checked, alongside the personal profile of the tutor, before courses can go live. Olaogun said that they have been assisting some tutors with the production of their digital content as e-learning is still a new concept for most Nigerians.
Tutor.ng also faces the challenge of limited access to internet, experienced by the majority of Nigerians, and Africans in general. While Internet World Stats estimates that Nigeria had close to 50m online users in 2012, data remains costly. “Our learning content demands data primarily because of videos,” noted Olaogun.
Keeping it lean
Olaogun is also the co-founder of Exolve Technologies – a technology consulting firm he started in Nigeria five years ago, and the parent company of Tutor.ng. The idea for an e-learning platform was formed a few years earlier when Exolve Technologies was developing a learning system for a university and Olaogun noticed the potential of e-learning in Nigeria.
His advice to fellow Nigerian entrepreneurs is to come to terms with the reality of the environment and the challenges of accessing the resources needed in starting a business in the market, such as financing. Once entrepreneurs understand the realities, they should take calculated risks, adopt a lean model in managing their startup, and learn to “delay gratification” by saving what income is earned.
“Delaying gratification is important because the market in Nigeria is less structured and might be a little more challenging than most markets within and outside the continent. Delaying gratification ensures they save enough for rainy days which will definitely come down the line,” he said.