Humphrey Musila is a US-based Kenyan Entrepreneur who is passionate about youth empowerment. Discovering a need for youth enlightenment, he set up African Tutor, a platform where young people across the African continent can access information such as scholarships, jobs and many other opportunities. He began by setting up a youth community based organization called Makueni County Youth Organization (MACOYO) in 2011, where he empowered young people in his home county of Makueni to become self-reliant.
Humphrey also opened the first community library in his home village before leaving for the USA, where he’s studying Political Science and Computer Science. In this interview, he tells more about African Tutor and his passion for providing African youth with access to information.
1. Tell us about African Tutor.
African Tutor is an online platform where young people across the African continent can access information such as scholarships, jobs and many other opportunities. I launched it in November 2014. I realized that there was a wide gap between young people in a developed country like US and countries in Africa in terms of access to opportunities and resources. Despite being miles away from my home country, I decided it was my responsibility to bridge that gap by giving back to my community. We are working to partner with more colleges and universities around the world, enabling students to access more educational opportunities.
2. What inspired setting up African Tutor?
The need for enlightenment in the community led me to launch a social enterprise by the name African Tutor. The idea was born last year November while in college and I went ahead to register the company in Kenya in a move to fill the gap. The sky’s the limit as African Tutor will be in a position to launch an e-learning platform in a about one year from now, to provide certified courses for learners not only in Kenya but also across the African continent. Courses like web application architectures, social entrepreneurship, financial accounting, programming cloud services for android handheld systems, basic science of public health, computer forensics and security, to mention a few. In short, African Tutor is seeking to connect the continent of Africa through education. This will boost the standards of education not only in Kenya but also across the African continent.
I regarded entrepreneurship as an additional way of integrating into the labour market to overcome poverty and though it has not been an easy ride owing to challenges like access to startup financing, administrative and regulatory framework, and business assistance and support, it calls to leaders to take more measures especially on the disparate economy and invest more on broadband which is very costly and that’s making Africa to struggle.
3. So far, how has the response been from Africans?
The response has been very positive. Most students have applied to get tutors and several have signed to become tutors on our platform. Our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter) are updated on a daily basis with new opportunities for young people. Regardless, I must admit that much needs to be done. The high cost of broadband in Africa is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed. However, I am hopeful that the number of new fiber optic cables linking Africa to international networks is set to provide a major boost to overall connectivity. With such an improvement to broadband connectivity, the startup will be in a position to make education affordable to students in Africa.
4. How do you make money with African Tutor?
African Tutor depends on highly qualified graduates who apply to be tutors and in turn get paid for their services. Students willing to be tutored have to pay some amount to get tutoring services. Meanwhile universities and colleges willing to market their courses online through African Tutor pay for their services.
5. What challenges does your business face?
We require vibrant networking due to the target group. You find many youths lack the necessary resources to access our services. They include mobile devices able to connect to the internet, computers, laptops and internet connectivity. As a result, this poses a threat to the growth of the business.
Many African countries lack faith in the potential and capabilities of their young people. My observation is that we ought to have faith in our young generation who toil and moil to make ends meet instead of frustrating their efforts, not forgetting the young entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and contributing to the economic standards of Africa.
6. You’re based in the United States and running a startup that targets Africa. How do you coordinate things, ensuring that time difference and not being physically on ground is not a barrier?
Not being physically on the ground makes a lot of difference and at times it is demanding especially because of the time difference. Sometimes I have to stay late in the night to coordinate things, make several phone calls and return emails, but I consider it normal in a setup like this. Some people that I wanted to join the startup never did but I have learnt to take risks to maintain growth of the business.
7. What’s your most exciting entrepreneurial moment?
Getting my first client and receiving over 5,000 quality books from overseas to boost education in Kenya was a huge validation for my company – barely one month after starting. Getting registered as a company was another validation for African Tutor. Despite a focus on making profits, African Tutor is a special company. It gives back to the community by making education accessible, especially in marginalized regions. In fact we have modeled our website to enable anybody, despite their location, to donate books and other useful academic resources through our website.
8. Share a word of advice to young aspiring Entrepreneurs out there.
Young people need to be aggressive and make use of every opportunity that comes along their way. Always remember that the sky’s the limit. You don’t need to build the next Microsoft or Facebook to make a difference in life. You just have to know who you are; and what you are passionate about and then move forward. The time for sitting down and waiting for manna from heaven is long gone. Wake up; use your talents to transform Africa for it starts with you and me. It is our ultimate responsibility.