Angèle Messa is a young Cameroonian entrepreneur in the field of technology and education. She is the founder of Educlick, a digital education platform that facilitates access to courses with one click. During Covid 19, the platform registered over 10,000 users. In 2018, the platform was awarded the African Union Prize for Innovation in Education. In this interview, Angèle Messa talks about her experience as an entrepreneur in technologies to promote education in Africa. The sayings.
What is Educlick and what are its objectives?
Educlick is an education platform that aims to tap into the technological revolution to facilitate access to quality education for all, especially the vulnerable segments of the population that cannot access formal education. It is intended for people who have no other alternatives.
It also aims to help prepare human resources for the world of work, equipping them from an early age with skills that will facilitate their access to the job market or enable them to create businesses and employ others. To this end, our model is to train and develop mentoring opportunities and facilitate access to employment through the Educlick Careers platform. It is a search engine that scours the internet daily and updates the platform with opportunities, vacancies, scholarships for which Cameroonians are eligible.
What is the content of Educlick?
At Educlick, we have two types of online programs: courses for primary school and capacity building courses, related to programs in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics…
What prompted you to launch this digital platform?
First of all, it was because of my personal experience. When I was a child, I suffered from an illness that made me miss school regularly. I could only rely on my classmates to come either home or to the hospital with their notebooks for me to copy the lessons. Although it was difficult, I was able to pass my exams. But I always thought growing up that if I had a solution that would have allowed me to study even when I was away from school, it would have really helped me. So this project was born out of my desire to help other people who might be in my situation, to have something that I did not have.
The platform as it exists today was born in 2016. Earlier, I joined an association to visit refugees in the east of Cameroon and during our visit, I made the observation that, most of these camps had facilities such as food, health… but no education. That’s when I started to think about it and we set up the first prototype of Educlick.
With the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, the attack and closure of schools, the need for such a platform became more and more apparent. Once again, pupils and students in this region had no alternative to study.
In the beginning, we recorded the audio lessons and shared them as much as we could. But at some point we realised that this was not sustainable. That’s when, in 2018, we created Educlick, to make the program sustainable. It is a social enterprise whose main objective is to impact its communities.
What is the contribution of women today in transforming education and promoting employment through technology in Africa?
This is an area that is still somewhat closed to women. The majority of companies working in this sector are run by men. But more and more, we are seeing young women in Cameroon and other African countries who are passionate about education, contributing as much as possible to the use of technology for quality education.
I am part of an association called “African women in Tech At Tops”, an NGO that brings together women who work in the field of technology in general and those who are specialised in education. I’m also a member of the Tech Women network, which allows digital women to spend 6 weeks in Silicon Valley, working on practical projects and doing professional mentoring. There are also a lot of women who work in promoting employment through technology.
It’s true that it’s not easy, because access to funding for these women’s companies is relatively less than for those run by men. But I believe that women have a place in promoting employment and education through technology. We who are in the field do not give in. We continue to work, encourage each other, surround ourselves and move forward.
What are the challenges and issues for women entrepreneurship in the education technology sector?
The challenges are numerous and are not specific to this sector. One of the main challenges in the field is the financial issue. Women’s tech companies are struggling to emerge and grow. They do not have easy access to external investors and others.
Other obligations, such as the household, force women to work 3 or 4 times more if they want to be entrepreneurs. Not to mention that they generally do not have access to other successful women for advice.
One of the major challenges for women is the loneliness that leads them to give up and go and join a male company to contribute to its development. This is not necessarily bad, but developing your business is very important.
How can we strengthen African women’s entrepreneurship in the technology and education sectors in Africa?
First of all, we need to change mentalities. A woman who decides to become an entrepreneur does not necessarily do so because she wants to compare herself with men. She does it because she wants to solve a problem and she firmly believes she has the skills to do so.
In the field of technology, programs and projects must be put in place to encourage girls and young women to take an interest in technology-related professions, scientific and technological fields, engineering, etc., so that at the end of their studies, their careers are automatically oriented towards this field.
It is also important to expose the work of women involved in this sector, without forgetting to create mentoring platforms, experience sharing between women, seminars, meeting forums for women entrepreneurs.
What is the impact of Educlick in Cameroon and in Africa today?
The impact of Educlick can be felt in Cameroon and beyond. In five years, we have managed to position ourselves as one of the leading educational technology companies in Cameroon through our programs and curriculum development.
We were among the leading study platforms during Covid 19. Our online platforms registered 10,000 active users during this period. We organised training sessions on entrepreneurship, digital professions, and guidance for young girls during this period, which were attended by participants from several countries: Chad, Togo. In five years, we have had more than 15,000 users in Cameroon and elsewhere.
This impact created during the Covid 19 crisis, the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon or that we continue to create until now has earned us several awards, among others the Innovation in Education Award by the African Union in 2018. As we work with people with reduced mobility, we have received the Zero Project.
What are your ambitions?
At the moment we are working on another fairly robust platform that will be able to serve as the main learning platform for all strata, beyond Cameroon, for primary on the one hand and for secondary on the other. It will be more intuitive, taking into account technological advances.
Educlick is also in a phase where it wants to partner with other platforms in education. We firmly believe that alone we go faster, but together we go further. We want to create a federation of young innovators in education in Africa, bringing complementary products and not recreating what already exists elsewhere.
Interviewed by Danielle Engolo