How this African Social Enterprise is Using Cartoons to Change Education #PartnerHighlight

Alexandra Nemeth

Senior Manager, Content Marketing & Storytelling at MovingWorlds

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” –Benjamin Franklin

How do you get kids involved in their own learning, and make it fun in the process? For Ubongo, the answer lies in something that kids already know and love: cartoons. For over 5 years, Ubongo has been producing educational content that over 6 million households across Africa watch, listen, and learn from every single week. We sat down with the Ubongo team to learn more about their work, and how hosting an experteer infused their marketing strategy with fresh perspectives.

What problem does your organization solve?

There is a Kiswahili saying, “Elimu ni ufunguo wa maisha.” It means “education is the key that opens life”. We believe that if we can leverage media, technology and storytelling to bring engaging and relevant education to kids in Africa… then they can go on to change their own lives, communities, and the future.

HALF of the African population are kids & youth, and we believe that they have the potential to solve the continent’s most intractable problems, from health to governance to poverty. But they need the education and inspiration to get there.

How does your organization create social impact?

Ubongo is Africa’s leading producer of kids’ ‘edutainment’, a new form of entertainment with learning and education as the goal. As a non-profit social enterprise we create fun, localised and multi-platform educational content that helps kids learn, and leverage their learning to change their lives. We reach millions of families across Africa through accessible technologies like TV, radio and mobile phones.

Our programs significantly improve school readiness and learning outcomes for kids, and also promote social and behavioural change for kids, caregivers, and educators. We work directly with kids and caregivers to develop and deliver content that has a real impact in their lives. The vision we are working towards is to equip Africa’s next generation with the educational foundation, critical skills and positive mindsets to change their own lives and communities for the better. [Editor’s note: Ubongo was recognized by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in 2017 for its important work, ultimately winning the WISE Award that year. Check out the award video below for an interesting profile of Ubongo from another perspective!]

Why did your organization choose to host an experteer?

It is always great to get a different perspective on things, particularly from people who have a ton of experience from bigger and more competitive markets. As we grow, we are encountering new challenges and opportunities that we haven’t before, and hosting an experteer is an ideal way to build the skills of our team members, and also help our team improve its operations and processes as we scale.

How did the experteer add value to your organization?

Our experteer, Healther, helped us develop new strategies and tools for business development and marketing to support our growth. Heather’s project centered on the integration of data driven marketing practices into Ubongo’s marketing and outreach to end users, partners, and funders. She suggested and tested new approaches in close coordination with the marketing team, and helped us document guidelines, key learnings and best practices in the Ubongo marketing handbook. [Editor’s note: to hear more from the team themselves, check out their testimonial video below!]

What advice do you have for finding and working with experteers?

Find someone who feels a connection and passion for your work and mission. Particularly for this kind of work, a shared mission that the experteer really identifies with is important to set yourself up for success. [Editor’s note: We whole-heartedly agree!]

What could an experteer help your organization accomplish? To uncover the areas of your business where an experteer could have the biggest impact, take our Skills Gap Assessment here. Once you’ve identified the skills you need, you can then create a profile on our platform to post your own projects and requests for pro-bono support.

To learn more about how we ensure that skilled volunteers land with impact, see our feature in Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) or get in touch with a team member. Let’s work together to make a difference!