CEO of Kibo School; Ope Bukola
Online learning platform Kibo School has raised $2 million in seed funding to offer STEM degree programs to Africans. The funding round was led by venture capital firm Neo and saw the participation of investors such as Future Africa, Pledges, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, and Transcends Ventures. Various angel investors also participated in the seed funding round.
Following the new round, the total funding raised by the online school now runs into a total of $2.4 million. The new round follows the startup’s pre-seed funding round which took place last year.
Speaking on the need for a platform like Kibo School and how important the seed round was, CEO Ope Bukola explained that “The primary goal for the seed round is to get the degree program off the ground. We have been doing these short classes, and we’re going to keep doing them and going through the process of applying for accreditation. But our primary focus now is bringing in students for our degree programs. There are so many young people getting into the technology workforce, and I really think the continent could be the place for young technologists if only our education system was up to the task. Our mission at Kibo is to provide a better alternative to traditional education.”
According to her, Kibo School has trained 400 students in short courses across thirteen African countries.
The drive for Kibo School came from Ope Bukola’s desire to make education easily accessible as well as help Africans leverage the growing opportunities in the tech sector. The CEO relocated from Nigeria to the US with her family when she was ten and ended up getting a degree in Economics from New York University. She always wondered how her friends and other really smart kids back in Nigeria could access the kind of quality education she had.
Gaining experience through positions she held at Palo Alto Networks and at Google Classroom (she held the position of product lead), she sought out to “find her place.” She knew she had to make quality education accessible and at the same time affordable. Eventually, she teamed up with Keno Omu and Robb Cobb, and today, we have Kibo School. Keno Omu once held the position of Dean at African Leadership University while Robb Cobbs is affiliated with Make School and Flatiron School.
Her focus on STEM became validated after Kibo School won the GSV Cup, one of the world’s biggest edtech pitch competitions, in April.
“The future of global talent is African. We’re the youngest and the fastest-growing continent. So, if you want to solve the world’s future problems, literally the young people are going to be in Africa. This is not just a charitable thing, it’s just a practical thing because Africa is where the opportunity for growth is,” she said.
Currently, Kibo Schol’s STEM program is open to students in six cities across Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana. “It’s an online degree, but we have target cities because it’s still really important to help students build community. So, in every city where we’re enrolling students, there’s going to be an advisor on the ground, who will organize meet-ups every month,” CEO Ope Bukola said.