COMPANY: WHIZ KIDS
FOUNDER: BRUKTAWIT TIGABU
INSPIRATION TO START THE BUSINESS
More than 300,000 children under five die in Ethiopia every year, 70 per cent of them from diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, measles and malnutrition. Bruktawit Tigabu produced educational TV and Radio programs such as, Tsehai Loves Learning to teach millions of children and their parents basic health education.
Whiz Kids Workshop was established with a strong belief that mass media is the most cost-effective and immediate way to reach children and make an impact on education. Whiz Kids uses existing research on mass media education, new lower-cost technologies for media creation, and a wide reach of television, radio and cell phones to put that belief into practice. Whiz Kids’ content covers topics from health education to character building to literacy, helping children and youth learn the necessary skills to prepare them for life.
BACKGROUND OF FOUNDER
Bruktawit Tigabu began her professional career as a primary school teacher in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Determined to improve the conditions of children in her country, she looked for ways to educate children on a mass scale. In 2005, with her husband, Bruktawit set up Whiz Kids Workshop. Working from their living room, using sock puppets, computer graphics and their own voices, they began producing “Tsehai Loves Learning,” the first educational preschool television program in the country. “Tsehai Loves Learning” has won numerous international awards for educational design, quality children’s production, and innovative social enterprise.
Responding to the critical need to improve literacy rates and school retention rates in Ethiopia, Bruktawit’s organization created a spin-off program called “Tsehai’s Fidel School” which systematically improves the methodology of teaching reading and writing in a phonetic, fun, and interactive way, supported by educational workbooks and reading materials. Whiz Kids Workshop was named a 2011 Tech Awards laureate for this effort.
In addition to preschool programming, Bruktawit has developed three educational television series for youth. “Involve Me” is first of its kind reality series featuring one-minute short films created by underprivileged youth. This award-winning program aims to boost children’s confidence and give children a voice. “Little Investigators” is a series that aimed at motivating primary school students to be more interested in science and innovation. Her latest creation, Tibeb Girls, is an animation series about three Ethiopian, adolescent superheroes taking the audience on a fun, imaginative, and educational journey as they eagerly step up to understand and resolve the struggles girls face every day. The three girls use their superpowers to fight injustice and harmful practices against girls in Africa.
Bruktawit was named a Rolex Young Laureate in 2010 for her efforts to reduce the child mortality rate in Ethiopia through public health messaging. Bruktawit was #45 on Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People In Business for 2012. She was a speaker at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in 2011 and has served as a pre-jury member in 2012, 2014 & 2015.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BUSINESS:
Whiz Kids Workshop (WKW) is an Ethiopian-led innovative, social-enterprise that focuses on improving the lives of children & youth through research based and cost-effective educational media.
The main challenge for Whiz Kids Workshop is acquiring seed / kick starting grant for some of it’s new innovation such us Tibeb Girls. The market for purchasing supplementary educational materials among parents and educational institutes is not developed well.
One of Whiz Kids’s signature program, Tsehai Loves Learning production capacity grew from producing 4 episodes a year to 13 episodes a year. While the annual budget grew from $25,000 a year to over $300,000, the quality and length of the program improved immensely. More importantly, Whiz Kids in collaboration with Blue Butterfly conducted a study on the impact the Healthy Whiz Kids, a USAID supported project. Tsehai Loves Learning episodes found that children who were exposed to the episodes over a ten-week viewing period doubled their knowledge of key child health topics, proving WKW’s success in achieving its goals for this project.
Whiz Kids Workshop programs positively impact lives using television, radio, cell phones, and print media. Starting September 2017, Whiz Kids Workshop will hold the unique distinction of providing Tsehai Loves Learning videos and books throughout all government primary schools in Addis Ababa to enhance improved learning outcomes. Whiz Kids Workshop, with the support of USAID Ethiopia, piloted Tsehai Loves Learning production, which is focused on improving early grade reading, with translation into six additional Ethiopian languages in Ethiopia.
In the next 3-5 years, Whiz Kids Workshop plans to promote education, health literacy and gender equality in Ethiopia and other African countries through its relevant media content. Tsehai Loves Learning and Tibeb Girls episodes are being adapted into English and French languages for additional broadcasts across the continent.
Given the impact of COVID-19 on children’s education, forcing them to stay at home, the company is intending to add an e-learning platform to its activities that will provide instruction to children up to the eighth-grade level.
Minimum $200,000 (USD)