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StudyMate Is A Bulawayo Startup That Is Doing Simple And Basic Stuff To Equip A Level Students

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Image: The founders of StudyMate: Rigney on the right and Justine on the left with Tinashe of Techzim

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In 2016 Rigney Muterisi then a lower sixth student got frustrated by how he had to share a single textbook with 7 other students! This meant each student would only get access to a textbook a few times a month. However assignments, daily exercises and tests don’t just come twice a month, they keep pouring almost everyday in all directions. More importantly, learning must be a daily exercise whether there is a test or not on the horizon.

Rigney decided to validate whether this was a common problem and he discovered it was. He found 17 other schools around Bulawayo that had similar resource constraints. After his little research, Rigney decided to work on a solution.

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The first thing that came to mind was that he would build an app, a platform where students and teachers would interact and get access to resources. The app would be called StudyMate. An app was not as easy a solution as he had imagined. Here is Rigney in his own words:

The situation on the ground was different however. As cool as it seemed to have an app then, it wasn’t as simple as it appeared. A lot of factors had to be considered. To begin with, a decent programming skill was needed which non of the  team members I had possessed.

A programmer could be hired but the resources to outsource a software engineer to build the platform we desired were non existent.

This was not all: access to content that students required for the platform was a headache too. Publishing houses had to be engaged for copyrights and these publishing houses also had expectations. For a number of reasons, the timing just wasn’t ideal to forge a partnership with them. With all these challenges at hand, we re-imagined the whole idea.

Going back to basics

The StudyMate team then looked at their problem more closely and they realised there was a platform where their target audience was already found. Yeah, you guessed it, WhatsApp. 32% of all data (broadband) consumed in Zimbabwe is consumed on WhatsApp.

StudyMate became a network of virtual classes on WhatsApp. They started with 3 WhatsApp groups for the 3 subjects that Rigney was taking.

Hyper growth

From those 3 virtual classes, StdyMate has grown to 65 virtual classes. To date more than 25 000 students have passed through their ‘platform’ and currently there are 10 000 students enrolled in the different classes.

It’s about community

StudyMate exists on a social platform hence it has become more than a learning material platform but a community of teachers and students helping each other learn. Rigney says:

For many it was more than a “WhatsApp group”, it was now a community where they could interact with their peers, in different parts of the country, share material, assist each other in various grey areas and even connect through the community through an initiative that we dubbed #StudyMateConnect. Students meet with other students from their respective areas for a quick group discussion after school hours or during weekends.

One of the Things that we advocate for and believe in at StudyMate is the power of “peer to peer learning.” This is by far one of the best ways to unlock potential and enable better understanding for students in their different learning areas.

What is fueling growth?

The first important thing to note about StudyMate is that it is built by passionate young guys who themselves experienced the problems they are trying to solve. This has made them rethink learning content for high school. They create infographics, podcasts and other easy to use materials to make learning less boring. All being distributed via WhatsApp which their customers already use.

These guys also understand the importance of IP and hence they do not allow the sharing of copyrighted content in their classes. Even for what they call #SharePdfDay they only allow the sharing of copywrite free content.

The number one rule to building strong communities is that a community is a garden and every garden must have gate. That means you must have rules in place and be willing to enforce them otherwise entropy. It’s impressive how StudyMate can keep thousands of students organised and on task. High school kids are not the easiest bunch but StudyMate manages to get them to do stuff like this:

We introduced an activity that we dubbed #PeersTeachUs. Students teach each other on the topics they were best at individually and through forums (virtual conferencing).

Interest across Zim’s borders

The guys were telling me that some of the students on their platform are outside Zimbabwe. Some of the teachers that are tutoring classes are also from other countries within the region. It shows how WhatsApp has become so universal and StudyMate did well to realise this fact early on.

 

 


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22 thoughts on “StudyMate Is A Bulawayo Startup That Is Doing Simple And Basic Stuff To Equip A Level Students

  1. *sigh* Zimbabweans at it again, and Techzim supporting crime as usual.

    Okay, these StudyMate guys and their WhatsApp communities are sharing electronicaly scanned copies of Textbooks, which is a copyright crime and i think its 5 years in Zimbabwe.

    And the bad thing is the ignorance displayed by all, including teachers and these so called innovators.

    Can someone do something not illegal for once?

    There is a reason why Ruzivo doesnt just copy-paste textbooks and have poor content on their platform, they have to create it from scratch or buy it.

    you guys are dissapointing .you are thieves.

      1. Yes I have, first hand seen it and can provide evidence to the fact that they scan and share copyright material including textbooks and past exam papers.

        they also create condensed, derivative copies of the same.

        this is just theft and racketeering.

        imagine if i was copy-pasting TZ content and not crediting you or asking for permission.

        STOP SUPPORTING THIEVES TECHZIM. Some of us work very hard to create our content. its angering when people just steal it.

        1. Hey that actually is quite bad. Taking it up with these guys and if indeed it is so you won’t find this article on

          1. You guys need a legal advisor and maybe a journalism boot-camp cause you are setting yourselves up to be participants in crime and legaly you can be cited as respondents for some of these articles you pen.

        2. Good afternoon

          I’m glad you’ve read the story about our journey. One of the reasons why it was flighted is for awareness on what we are currently doing and copyright infringement isn’t one of them. Our core values include respect for intellectual property and copyrights so be assured we don’t not scan,print, share or distribute content that is not ours. *If you’ve actually ever used our plartform* you’d surely attest to this as many who are arw doing so currently.

          If you have any grievance however please contact us on mrstudymate@gmail.com
          Or whatsAppp on +263 779 854 906/+263 774 788 398 we will be more than willing to hear you out.

          Regards

          Studymate team.

    1. I was about to say the same thing, only in a lighter tone. No problem has been solved here. Funny thing, TZ ran an article back in the day of how some media houses were stealing their content. The solution provided here is no different from photocopying. I know a school that got into trouble for photocopying text books.

      1. Copying and pasting content is infringement of course. If one creates infographics and study notes is that infringement?

        If you read the article it actually talks about prohibition of sharing copywrited material.

  2. If there is no sharing of material, how then does this platform solve the problem of lack of textbooks?

    1. This has made them rethink learning content for high school. They create infographics, podcasts and other easy to use materials to make learning less boring

  3. Probably copy right infringement… But as one who is now a doctor….I would not be where I am without this piracy… We a poor country we just can’t afford it… And it’s a cycle… I’m not defending myself what choice for I have at the time… Poverty is discriminatory…

  4. Some of you want to be hard for nothing, we are the poor of the poorest let the kids try any means that will make them pass and have a brighter future. He who does not have seen cast the 1st stone. Stop this rubbish once!!!

    1. This is why Zimbabwe is in this bad situation. Attitudes like this. Even if they learn, how will they make money when their work gets stolen?

  5. Tinashe, please stop typing “copywrite infringement”! You are a journalist for crying out loud. Get your spellings correct.
    Those people saying we are poor so we should steal from each other need to know that that’s how we end up with substandard things. People don’t invest much time, money and effort in thing that will end up getting pirated and not bought

    1. Good afternoon

      I’m glad you’ve read the story about our journey. One of the reasons why it was flighted is for awareness on what we are currently doing and copyright infringement isn’t one of them. Our core values include respect for intellectual property and copyrights so be assured we don’t not scan,print, share or distribute content that is not ours. *If you’ve actually ever used our plartform* you’d surely attest to this as many who are arw doing so currently.

      If you have any grievance however please contact us on mrstudymate@gmail.com
      Or whatsAppp on +263 779 854 906/+263 774 788 398

      Regards

      Studymate team.

    2. Hey Kuda thanks!
      I noticed it last night and I fixed it within the article itself but left the comments as is

      I agree we should not have different standards because ‘we are poor.’ We are probably where we are because of no respect for property rights.

      The StudyMant guys insist stealing is not their MO. If I see for myself that it is I will revisit this

    1. Hello Kuda

      Please note we value your feedback and are so much excited to interact with you!

      Please do hit us up if you have any suggestions.

      Good day

      Studymate team

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