Today our focus is on Schoolbiz Network, a network designed to impact the lives of youth in developing markets through entrepreneurship and innovation. The founder of Schoolbiz network Kizwalo Simbila had an interview with Media Convergency and shared with us their vision, mission, what type of services they offer and where they see themselves in the future.
In a world where almost, everything depends on technology and networking being innovative is an essential asset. Schoolbiz Network connects students online across the globe to share knowledge, learn and study together. It’s unique online engagement platform that not only provides information but also supports the preparedness of graduates or soon to be graduates to face the realities of the job market. Their slogan is Learn, Educate and Network because through the application African youth can connect and share available opportunities to fellow peers, be it scholarships, jobs or entrepreneurial skills. The initial idea of having such a network began in 2016, it was implemented in 2017 and the app was developed and launched in 2019. They are located at Mikocheni, in Dar es Salaam.
The Inspiration Behind
“I can say challenges such as getting the right information on how to secure scholarships, available job opportunities to students in Tanzania were what inspired me to begin the journey. There are more scholarships awarded to students in developed countries compared to developing countries such as Tanzania because they have the advantage of access to information. Reflecting back to 2016, we were less privileged when it came to securing scholarship opportunities, and there were no initiatives such as these that would get students to connect in one digital space so that they can interact and learn together. I took advantage of that and created an online community by designing a website that would cater for the needs of my fellow Tanzanians and Africa as well.”
“With the existence of smartphones we leveraged on this technology and made sure to make the web applications and functions easier for student users to access academic materials by doing so it also improved their academic performance in school.”
Schoolbiz Network now has an application that connects African students and entrepreneurs across the globe through the Schoolbiz forum where they can interact, share knowledge, ideas and skills.
Investing on the Idea
“I had budget in mind for developing the website and I went about reaching out to close people to raise the funds, I am extremely grateful for the network of people who were ready to help, so I wrote a proposal and presented it to the ten people. I knew who would listen to me and understand my vision. However in 2017 I travelled to China for school, I remember communication was an issue in the company I used work for in Tanzania who was also responsible in working on my website, so this stalled the development and I began anew in 2019.” Says Kizwalo
How the Services Work
When asked about how they operate, Kizwalo had this to say, “Any youth/ young adult with a smart phone can download the app from App store or Play store and create an account by signing up to get access to the platform. The users can interact, share information, create groups where they can chat and discuss issues related to academics and engage with other platforms inside our platform related to jobs, scholarships by doing this it helps the students to stay informed.”
The approach used to reach their targeted customers it is through social media platforms and traditional media. With Social Media platforms they use platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and hosting of live online discussions while with traditional media they use media channels like Clouds TV to market themselves and speak of what they do and how one can benefit with their platform.
The Eco-System Positioning
Schoolbiz Network says what differentiates them from other similar initiatives is the group of people they work with, “For us we believe a student can be anybody so we work with any individual that desires to learn, interact and connect with different people across the world. Our services vary from different categories available in the app such as scholarships, jobs and opportunities where people can get access to any educative information.”
The Achievement So Far
Schoolbiz Network won an award in August of 2020, in a competition called ‘Internet Plus’ that was held in China for students who were studying in China. The competition had two levels one was competing in school level if you are then successful; you go compete in the province level. What they had to do was have a group of ten people so that they can create proposals and businesses to pitch on the presentation day. Schoolbiz Network participated in the year 2018 having only a website by then but unfortunately they were not able to go to the next level.
In the late of 2019 they did participate again with only a group of two people, by that time they already had a website and an established application, they had enough content to present so they created their business proposal, fortunately in the business school they were the selected project this encouraged them to compete in the bigger competition. The competition took place in August of 2020 and they joined with different schools and provinces. They were among the 8 people selected and were given a gold trophy, it gave them the recognition and it fueled them to keep being innovative and believe in their vision and mission.
“With Covid-19 I was at an advantage, it was a time where people depended on technology more than anything else and lucky enough the Schoolbiz Network was already using digital application in the way we operate, people kept signing up and using our platform to study, discuss and learn.” Says Kizwalo
The Next Step
As Schoolbiz Network, they look forward to making the life of a student better by giving aid to school boys and girls who fail to go to school due to financial reasons or other family issues, for it is a right for any young Tanzanian girl or boy to get education.
When it comes to the digital side they look forward to having online courses where people will be able to pay on subscription basis. Kizwalo says, “The contribution of the government and the media is much needed to help in recognizing young innovators in the tech-industry of Tanzania as well as pull in potential investors who will invest in what we do, I see Schoolbiz Network being the leading educative and informative networking platform in Africa with students from different parts in Africa.”
“To a Student, I strongly encourage you to work on your idea right now do not wait for the right time or when you’ll be ready. Take advantage of the time you have in the present, take a leap of faith and believe in your potentials, you are able.” Says Kizwalo
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