With her warm persona and toothy grin, Titi Adewusi is a living, breathing and walking advertisement for 9ija Kids – An EdTech Startup she Co-Founded with her sisters in 2018.
9ija Kids has developed a learning platform to help primary school children improve their academic performance while imbibing important life skills and values using fun, games and resources. We spoke to her about the incredible work she’s doing in ensuring children learn, have fun and are inspired.
From Consulting to “Solution Provider”
As a Consultant with one of the ‘Big 4” Consulting companies for over a decade, solving problems and delivering value was something Titi was great at. This made her journey into entrepreneurship a logical one. According to her “Consulting is about solving business problems.
So, for me, it’s always been about solving problems and delivering value either as an employee or entrepreneur. Therefore, I don’t look at the title “entrepreneurship.” I’d say it was more of identifying a problem, finding the solution that led to me to the path of becoming an entrepreneur.
Making Learning Fun and Interactive
As a child, Titi loved Monopoly and imagined it was just a fun game. What she didn’t realise at that time was that the game had taught her about the streets of London, without visiting the country (at that time). Funnily, no one taught Titi how to play the game. Decades later, this knowledge would support the birth of the 9ija Kids idea – learning while having fun.
At 9ija Kids, Titi and her team use technology and gamification to help children increase academic performance while imbibing key life skills (like financial literacy and civic values). The EduTech company was co-founded by Titi alongside her two sisters, who are all passionate about enhancing children’s learning experiences and revolutionizing learning across Nigeria. The strategy is simple—develop games that children love, teach them core skills and values; so that learning seems, feels, and sounds effortless.
What’s more? The 9ija Kids team have the data to validate the importance of their work. Scientists discovered that it takes 400 repetitions to make a new brain synapse but 10-12 repetitions when done with play.
The failure rate for secondary school O level exams in Nigeria (WAEC) was 85% in 2018. Some of the issues can be traced to primary school education where the building blocks for learning and success were laid. So, even though 24 million children are currently enrolled in primary schools in Nigeria, 80% of them are not receiving a quality education. 9ija Kids is harnessing the power of effortless learning to improve learning outcomes in Nigeria and Africa.
With 9ija Kids, Titi and her team believe that children learn best when a cohesive approach is employed. “The idea of 9ijakids is to create learning moments from any topic using games, puzzles, songs, activity books, etc. Our approach to our game portfolio is to look at the total child — not just academics, but also life skills like financial literacy, values, and most importantly promote the Nigeria culture and heritage.”
On the 9ija Kids’ platform, it’s not uncommon to find children play a game on the past presidents of Nigeria and then play a game on honesty, and the next minute, you’d find them playing a game on savings & investments, or even a math game on fractions. That’s how diverse and interactive the 9ija Kids Platform is.
For Parents Raising Technologically-Savvy Kids
Since 9ija Kids is a technology-enabled platform, Titi definitely understands the reservations parents have with raising children who seem to have become addicted to apps and the internet. “It’s important for parents to understand that technology is not the enemy. When utilized properly, it can be an awesome tool, an enabler – which can help children create new and memorable experiences.”
That being said, as parents, one of our core duties is to play a very active role in what our children do. Learning for young children should never be unsupervised. At 9ija Kids, we encourage parents to experience the games even before their children are exposed to it.
For example, parents play our Citizenship game and are amazed at the gap in their knowledge and how fun and interactive it is to learn. Parents also need to encourage their children to be producers and not just consumers of technology. At 9ija Kids, we take on interns during the summer break to help create games. It helps them look at technology in a different way. It shows how they can solve problems and make a difference with technology.”
For her, avoidance is not the answer, but moderation. “It’s important for parents to ensure that their children get a healthy balance of outdoor, social, and creative play.
Challenges In Running An EdTech Startup
Running a startup is more often challenging. For the 9ija Kids team, it isn’t different. Titi says that Nigerians do not like to patronize made-in-Nigeria products and services. “There is a bias when it comes to apps developed locally by Nigerian game developers.
Customers tend to have a preference for global products over local products even before they see the product. Also, Nigerians like free things and would generally baulk at the thought of paying for educational digital content.” The high cost of stable reliable internet and data services means that the average Nigerian prefers accessing games offline — thankfully, Titi and her team overcame this by creating an offline version of their games.
Another challenge they face when developing games is finding adequate local content and resources that meet high-quality standards. “Finding authentic resources and images that positively projects our rich culture and heritage is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” says Titi. “So it means we spend more time and resources creating our own images.”
Milestones and Achievements
It hasn’t all been challenges for the 2-year old Startup – there have been some remarkable wins and achievements. “9ijakids officially launched in 2018, and we launched the first version of the 9ijakids app, that same year in May, in the Google Play Store. After that, towards the end of the year, the startup also launched its products in other stores like Apple, Windows and Kindle. Today, 9ija Kids have over 200 games in their games portfolio.
In 2019, 9ija Kids emerged top 10 in the Union Bank Edtech Challenge and was also a top 10 finalist in the Africa UK Female Tech Founders Challenge. In 2019, the company launched its Activity Books — an offline version of the games, which sold over 4000 copies within a month.
Success Markers + Outlook
“One of the things that fulfil me on this journey, is when I meet a child/parent who tells me how 9ijakids games or books/resources has made an impact and difference in their life—it pushes me to do more and provide more ways of learning and engagement.
In terms of future outlook, we asked Titi if 9ija Kids’ customers and subscribers can expect more? And you can guess her answer. Titi says that more fun activities would be incorporated into their games, as they are focused on ramping up and providing more fun games, puzzles, rhymes, quizzes and fun learning resources for parents and children. She also added that 9ija Kids remains committed to providing a fun and holistic learning experience, as they certainly don’t believe that learning should be boring. Whoop!
Final Words For Younger Female Entrepreneurs
Titi has a few words for her younger self and upcoming female entrepreneurs. First—make that move! Don’t overthink or overanalyse the idea. Just make a move! It’s okay if it doesn’t work out, but it gives you the needed boost to venture deeper and know what works and what doesn’t next time.
Secondly, expand your network. Attend events, seminars, hangouts and conferences. Don’t use work as an excuse to not meet new people and establish relationships with them. It’s a great way to open your mind and meet awesome people. Look for networks and platforms like Leading Ladies Africa to expand your network, knowledge and mind.
The Leading Ladies Africa weekly interview series focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.