Zomila: An app for pupils looking to further their studies

Carla Wilby and Skhumbuzo Matine of Zomila. Picture: Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Carla Wilby and Skhumbuzo Matine of Zomila. Picture: Vhahangwele Nemakonde

As of June 2019, the Zomila team had helped 2,000 users, with most coming from Giyani and Makhado in Limpopo. 

Founded in August 2017, Zomila 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.

Zomila, which loosely translates to they will grow, is an app that seeks to provide free online career guidance for students looking to further their studies in different higher education institutions. It further links pupils to funding opportunities available to them.

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Though the corporate environment is being encouraged to offer learnerships and internships, these were not advertised properly, and this is what birthed the idea to create an app that aggregates opportunities and push for alternative studying.

“We had the idea of making education accessible. In the wake of the Fees Must Fall movement we realised that though the education might be free, it’s not accessible. The information that enables students’ decision-making is not there to help make a decision that’s right for them.

“How do you enable these students who are in rural areas, who are getting mediocre to good marks that are also good enough to get into university and the student has the potential to succeed? How do you get them the information that will help them make smart decisions and the information that they might need? How do you bridge that gap between high school and university in a way that gives you the drive and motivation to succeed?” Carla Wilby, one of the founders says.

Though South Africa is one of the countries with high data prices, the Zomila team anticipated the problem and came up with mitigation plans. They created a mobile app that is optimised for low-end phones and has caching.

“It’s not data intensive but it’s still not ideal,” says Wilby.

In addition, the team has been working with the Western Cape education department to pilot some lessons that use the content that can be found on their app. This enables the team to understand the future of work and to continuously learn, adjust and find opportunities for pupils.

Among some of the features on the app, is an assessment test that is taken by learners who are looking for help in deciding their career choice and the kind of funding that is most suitable for their path. The test seeks to enable self-awareness and self-discovery for learners, something that could help them make the best decision for their career.

The app also collects data on the income bracket of the pupil’s family and use it to guide them towards available funding options, taking into consideration their career choices.

As of June 2019, the Zomila team had helped 2,000 users, with most coming from Giyani and Makhado in Limpopo.

“As much as our reach can be limited, it kind of works right now because government is trying  to reach these schools and provide books. But the best way right now is digital. What also helps is that Vodacom and Cell C provide free access to Facebook and if you’re advertising there then you already have your market.

“One of my favourite quotes is: ‘talent is equally distributed, it’s opportunity that isn’t,'” says Wilby.

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