Kennedy Kitheka

When he was growing up in Kenya, 24-year-old Kennedy Kitheka’s mother, a teacher and a devout Christian, would give everything she earned to the local church. Inspired by her selflessness and the emphasis both his parents placed on education, Kitheka dreamed of solving Africa’s education challenges by using 21st-century technology. While studying Business Science at the University of Cape Town he joined forces with Kumbirai Gundani, Kolawole Olajide and Jason Muloongo, three friends who felt education had become a privilege rather than a right. Together, in 2009, they founded Blu-uni Mobile Solutions, a free wirelessly accessible archive for course material. Kitheka was awarded the Mazars and UCT Business Strategy prizes for his business proposals, but the Bluetooth technology on which his early initiatives were based was on the way out and something was needed to replace it. After what he remembers as heart-aching, soul-searching, brain-storming sessions in the back of Muloongo’s beat-up Toyota Corolla, the group created Fünda, a social media-based education platform that allows teachers to share content with pupils. This fledgling enterprise has already been recognised by being placed second in the South African Breweries Foundation’s Social Innovation Awards. All the prize money goes right back into Fünda, developing educational content such as e-books and learning videos for the site. Earlier this year, the team was runner-up in the United Nations World Youth Summit Awards and was placed second in Superstage, a university business-idea competition. Having been voted the Best Business Venture in Africa in the Idea Works Indiafrica Awards, a personal highlight for Kitheka was being given the opportunity to present the concept of Fünda at the World Economic Forum this year. Fünda, which currently has a development mentorship at Citi Group’s Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town, looks set to educate a whole new generation of potential Kennedy Kithekas. — Rudi Benadé