We are beyond excited to announce that we have partnered up with Kukua, a UK-based education and media technology company with a mission to eradicate illiteracy in Africa. Doobry is joining Kukua as its franchise development team and has been helping Kukua develop a pan-Africa edutainment franchise. Kukua has already successfully built and launched Sema Run and has partnered with mobile operator Airtel to promote Sema apps to over two million phones in Kenya.
Why Doobry Loves Sema
We met Kukua CEO and founder Lucrezia Bisignani at Kidscreen early this year, and we instantly fell in love with Sema, the main character in the Sema Run app. Smart, brave, kind-hearted, and adorable, we immediately knew Sema could be a perfect role model for kids.
In today’s kids’ entertainment landscape -- full of strong female characters and girl power storytelling -- Sema offers a unique perspective and mission. Sema will introduce a world of new possibilities to children particularly in Africa (but also across the globe) by inviting kids to learn and master new literacy and STEM skills in a really fun, engaging way. And with Sema, we see a huge potential in unique franchise storytelling.
We are not the only fans of Sema. Kukua recently closed a seed investment round and raised $2.5 million led by EchoVC and also featuring firstminute capital, Burda Principal Investments, Xavier Niel's Kima Ventures and strategic angel investors such as Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, former VP of mobile at Uber and Dropbox.
Needs and Mission meets Whitespace
It is estimated that there will be over 250 million primary school children in Africa by 2030, yet 138 million primary school children currently lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Kukua is committed to addressing this need starting with Sema, a suite of educational tools made up of game-based apps that teach reading, writing and math.
But Kukua is not just a mission based media and tech company; it has its eyes on a massive untapped opportunity. "We saw a huge gap in the production of locally relevant content. Children currently watch western cartoons like Dora the Explorer and Tom and Jerry and we didn't want children to grow up without African heroes that look just like them," Kukua CEO Lucrezia noted.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media recently released a study that analyzed the representation of female STEM characters in entertainment. They found that the narrow representation of STEM characters has not improved much over the past decade -- when it comes to media, men still outnumber women in the field nearly two to one and the vast majority are white. And as the Institute’s slogan states, “If she can see it, she can be it.” Sema will give children throughout Africa and beyond a relatable role model and empower them to know that they actually can “be it”.
We also saw an inspiring phenomenon earlier this year in the form of Marvel’s massively successful Black Panther. The profound impact that the film and its characters had, not only in Africa, but on communities around the world showed the pent-up demand and thirst for truly authentic African content that represents the rich culture, tradition, and spirit of the continent.
And it’s no secret that Africa is in a growth stage: rapid urbanization, ever-increasing mobile internet penetration, access to streaming services, and local innovations by a slew of enterprising ‘tech-preneurs’ are accelerating its growth rate, boosting the economy, and making consumers and audiences more sophisticated and savvy.
Yes, we are really heading to Africa, literally!
Needs and opportunities aside, the true reason why we have partnered up with Kukua is because our hearts are in it. Here at Doobry, we are all parents. We are all global citizens. We believe that children all around the world -- regardless of their gender, socioeconomic background, nationality, and race -- have the right to laugh and learn. We believe in Kukua’s mission and vision in empowering children in Africa through education and entertainment. We also believe that Sema can break down the barriers of persistent stereotypes that exist all around the world. As we pack our bags to head to Kenya next week (YES, we are really going!!), we couldn’t be more thrilled to be in this journey together with Kukua.
Please stay tuned for our postcard from Kenya, but for now..here is our GLOBAL group meeting shot! :)
Our weekly GLOBAL team call snap shot: Kelly and Lulu met in NYC, Marri joined us from Columbus OH, Jess from L.A., Carla and Miguel from Modena-Italy, and Clara and Magda from Kukua London office.