Digital Kiota: COVID-19 Prevention & Response Challenge Finalist

“If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people” – Chinese Proverb

According to Digital Kiota, our 2nd runner up for the Youth Connekt COVID-19 Challenge 2020, there are several ways you can make an impact on the world, but there is no greater impact that you can make than spreading education, and empowering people who’ll empower and teach people to empower and teach others: the domino effect.

Digital Kiota is an integrated digital design and development company formed to design, develop and commercialize ICT solutions that provide different kinds of utility to different audiences. Their winning product at the Youth Connekt COVID-19 Challenge, PlaynLearn is an online supplementary educational platform for primary and high school students.

Their journey began at Midlands State University, in the Enactus Club, where the co-founders Kudakwashe, Brent and Takudzwa met.  

Kudakwashe is a hybrid: art director and brand strategist with advertising agency experience. He is passionate about translating the commercial ambitions of brands into creative strategies and experiences that target audiences can connect with. He is the marketing and creative director of Digital Kiota.

Brent is a banking and finance student who recently completed work-related learning with KPMG Zimbabwe. He has expertise in financial modelling, deal advisory and business development.

Takudzwa is the visionary director and finance strategist with financial modelling and reporting experience. His passion is transforming the digital world with sophisticated financial models that will help businesses in Zimbabwe to reach their financial goals. 

The trio got together in March 2020 just before the National Lockdown and it was during that meeting  they discussed the prospect of starting a digitally focused company that will solve problems unique to Zimbabwe and Africa. 

They discussed the need for a digital educational application with video content that can guide students to a greater understanding of what they are already learning in school. At the beginning, none of them had the necessary skills and knowledge (i.e software development) to bring their online dream to reality, but they pursued it nonetheless. Eventually, they managed to acquire assistance from their partners and stakeholders. 

Presently, Digital Kiota is a team of four, keen to grow synergies and develop to make their organisation an exhaustive digital learning platform.

In their brief existence, the company has encountered issues with working digitally as the team is spread out in various locations. Furthermore, school commitments have also gotten in the way of a productive work life. While the young group recognizes its strong entrepreneurial ambition, they also want to  honour the educational investment that their parents and guardians have made. On top of this, due to COVID-19, the process to formalize their company took some time which in turn slowed progress as they could not approach certain stakeholders without being registered.  

Despite all the problems encountered, the tenacious group persisted. Their ambition is to build Digital Kiota into a trusted supplementary educational content library for students not only in Zimbabwe, but also across Africa. They empathize with those who have lost much due to COVID-19. For the company, however, the whole experience has been very instructive. It has exposed numerous flaws in their internal affairs, which has forced them to find ways to work efficiently without being in the office every single time. This means creating platforms, products, delivery methods and infrastructure that favours contactless interactions. 

When asked how the whole Youth Connekt journey has been for them, they had this to say: “To be honest, our Youth Connekt experience was a significant affirmation, a green flag if you will. Mostly so, because we received a grant two months after coming together to say “let’s do this” is every entrepreneur’s dream. As we move forward, we look forward to the business mentorship and support we will get from them.

Our advice to other start-ups is that, pitch for opportunities, it might feel like a lot of work, but then other than the promise and possibility of investment and support, partaking in the process can make you bond with your business idea even better as you find ways to best tell its story. It makes it a thing that doesn’t just live in you, especially if you are still an early stage start-up – you’re driven to put your ideas into some form, to layout a logical projection from where you are and going as well as fine tune your business idea – that is what you need.” 

To get in touch with them visit their website or social media handles below:

Website: www.digitalkiota.co.zw 

Facebook: playnlearnzw

Twitter: @DigitalKiota

Instagram: @digitalkiota

Which features do you think the Digital Kiota team should add to their PlaynLearn product? What will it take for schools all over Zimbabwe to adopt virtual learning platforms? 

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