ScholarX is a Nigeria-based company that was founded in 2016. It is one of the start-ups that graduated from Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa, a programme that was launched in 2018, and is committed to training 60 African start-ups over three years.
The mobile and web platform seeks to help graduates acquire necessary skills that might help them get jobs – this as a result of university not necessarily equipping students with the right skills. This is for final year students and recent graduates who can’t afford training, and can’t access skills funding.
“What we’re doing is different in that when they get a job and start earning, they repay with a small interest. We fund technical skills that they need to acquire i.e software development in the IT environment and agriculture. Yes there is high unemployment but the jobs that are out there are not being filled because young people don’t have the required skills. We bridge that gap through low interest funding. We use technology to check high quality students, connect them with the funds and training, put them in a position that will lead to their success and put them in a job,” says Bola Lawal, co-founder of ScholarX.
Though the company advocates for formal education, it also questions the skills students come out of university with.
“It’s not only technical skills but also soft skills. If you’re a developer, can you handle tough situations? Can you work well with others? Can you multitask or work in different working conditions?” Lawal says.
Using their app, the company sends out application forms to those who may need help in advancing their skills set, provide them with an assessment test that will help decide which skills go with the chosen career path, fund them and place them in a training partner.
“When we started this thing and sent out applications, within an hour we had 100 applications. People spend money they don’t have to acquire an education that doesn’t prepare them for the workplace, only to walk out with a piece of paper, with no skills.”
According to Lawal, it was important for the education system to start catering a skills-based education because that is where the world was headed.
“Even bigger companies such as Microsoft now don’t have a degree as a requirement, they look for skills instead. So what we’re doing is; we find students who have great marks, fund them, find training opportunities for them and that will put them in a better position for employment.”
With only nine people running the company, the company had accumulated 60,000 users in the past year.
“Nigeria’s youth population is growing rapidly, however, opportunities to access adequate education and formal skills are declining. We are solving the access to education problem for students from low-income backgrounds in emerging markets due to economic inequalities and a high poverty rate.”