Funzi: Finnish mobile solution takes education to developing countries
The Swahili word 'funzi' refers to learning and groups of learners. It is also delightfully close to the Finnish slang word 'funtsia', to think.
"We wanted to create something meaningful. Funzi combines our two passions: enabling learning across the world and benefiting even more from technology than before," says CEO Tero Salonen, explaining the background of the company.
Mobile use was the cornerstone of Funzi's development. The main target audience of the service is inhabitants of large cities in developing countries, who need additional tools in order to develop their professional competences. Funzi is currently offering a variety of courses on entrepreneurship and finding employment.
"For example, in Tanzania many people graduate only to wind up unemployed. You cannot leave people hanging around doing nothing," says Salonen.
Funzi users can subscribe for a daily batch of new learning materials delivered to their mobile devices. Each lesson includes theory, examples and a short test. Studying with Funzi is free of charge, but students can select to pay for a final exam in order to earn a certificate at the end of each course. The user can cover the costs of this personally or apply for sponsorship from the state, a school or a non-governmental organisation.
Versatile opportunities for users and content producers
"We have successfully involved local organisations, which are now translating and editing Funzi's global content into the local language. In other words, Funzi is also creating new activities around competencies," says a delighted Salonen.
Another important target group for Funzi consists of companies producing course content.
"We offer content producers a novel way of reaching new user groups via mobile phones and an opportunity to expand their clientèle. Developing countries are currently undergoing rapid digitalisation. There are more than seven billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world, while the number or PC users is only a billion. Large masses can only be reached through mobile phones," he adds.
Aiming to lead the market
"Funzi would not have been possible without Tekes. Funding granted by Tekes enabled product development and helped us to pilot the idea on the market," Salonen says.
"If we continue to grow as we have to date and find funding solutions in the future, nothing can stop us from becoming the market leader in our sector," Salonen believes.
CEO Tero Salonen
tero (at) funzi.fi
Text: SST Viestintä