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Google.org Announces $1.5m Grant To Siyavula

Invites SA to answer 1 million maths questions in October.

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In July, Google.org granted $1.5 million to the non-profit arm of Siyavula Education to provide free access to its maths practice service for 150 000 South African students and a further 150 000 in Nigeria. Today, Siyavula is starting this process by announcing its #1MillionMaths Challenge to kick start learner preparation for end of year exams.

Siyavula is inviting South African learners to complete 1 million maths questions on its digital learning platform in the month of October. For the #1MillionMaths Challenge, Siyavula will provide free access to its premium online maths practice service for all Grade 8-12 learners in the country.

“Both Google and Siyavula harness technology to make information and education more accessible. We want to demonstrate how powerful this can be by providing learners with access to this tool during their preparation for exams, ” says Nick Cain, Google.org’s Portfolio Manager for Education.

“Siyavula is launching the #1MillionMaths Challenge to show the reach and scale that technology enables, as well as the incredible impact that practice can have when learning maths,” says Mark Horner, CEO of Siyavula. “We’ve designed our software to adapt to each learner’s level so they practise smarter, not just harder.”

Related: Government Funding & Grants Advice

Grade 12 learners preparing for exams will be able to practice self-marking exam questions for Mathematics Paper 1 and Paper 2. In addition to learning and preparing for exams, learners will receive various prizes and rewards from Siyavula such as data, mobile phones and Google Play vouchers during October.

150 000 learners from low fee public schools who participate in this challenge will be eligible to receive a Google.org-sponsored scholarship that grants them access to Siyavula maths practice for all of 2018.

To join the #1MillionMaths challenge, prepare for exams and stand a chance to receive one of the 150 000 Google-sponsored subscriptions for 2018, learners can visit the Siyavula website at www.siyavula.com, register for a trial account and redeem the following access code: siyavula-one-million-maths. This code will grant them premium access until the 15th of December and allow them to participate in the challenge.

Prizes, leaderboards and more information will be announced on the Siyavula Facebook page throughout the month of October. We invite learners to join the Siyavula Facebook page to monitor our progress and stay up to date.

About Siyavula Practice

Siyavula Practice offers learners an unlimited number of maths and science exercises at a level that is tailored to their ability and gives immediate, step-by-step explanations for each question answered. The software has been designed so that learners can practise as much as they like until they feel confident that they’ve really understood.

Powerful technology adapts each practice session to the needs of the learner by changing the difficulty and sequencing of the questions they see. Siyavula Practice can be used by anyone with a computer, tablet or mobile phone (smart or not) as long as it has an internet connection.

It carries an annual subscription fee (R599 per year each for maths and science or R999 per year for both), but Siyavula works with funders to provide disadvantaged students with sponsored access. Partnerships with Vodacom and MTN allow learners to access the Siyavula website without being charged for data.

About Google.org

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, supports nonprofits that innovate to address humanitarian issues. Google.org was created to pursue, experiment with, and build upon ideas to improve the world, and continues to take an iterative approach to philanthropy today. Google.org develops and invests in pursuits that can have measurable impact on local, regional and global issues, and rallies Google’s people in support of these efforts with a singular goal of creating a better world, faster.

Related: Government Funding and Grants for Small Businesses

In July Google announced that Google.org  would make $20 million in grants over the next five years to nonprofits that are working to improve lives across Africa, including a Google.org Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 to award $5 million in grants. Any eligible nonprofit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online.

As part of this commitment Siyavula received a $1.5M grant to provide free access to its online learning platform to 150,000 low-income students in South Africa and 150,000 additional low-income students in Nigeria. They will also use Google.org funding to create versions of their highly regarded (and government approved) free digital textbooks aligned to the Nigerian curriculum and a set of topic maps that will be freely available to anyone building ed tech for the Nigerian market.

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Entrepreneur Today

The Ins And Outs Of A Good Exit Strategy

The thought of parting with a business you’ve grown from the ground up may be unsettling, but Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says that it is better for both your business and yourself to plan for this as early as possible.

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“The challenge that business owners often face in this respect is comparable to the difficulty that many new parents have with imagining their children grown up and leaving for university. Imagine, however, if parents did not plan ahead for the cost of their education – that would be detrimental to the future of their children. The same could be the case for your business.”

Mjadu says that a good exit strategy is about sustainability and being able to measure your business performance against the goals you have set for it. “It’s really about being able to say, ‘this is when the work is done and I can exit the business or take on a different role – this is what success looks like in terms of monetary return on investment and other business growth indicators’.

“The lack of an exit strategy could be telling of a fundamental lack of measurable business goals and this needs to be addressed,” she says.

From immediate liquidation to liquidation over time; family succession; selling to staff or external investors; the open market or another business; or the gruelling but profitable exercise of taking your company public – there are many different ways in which an entrepreneur can exit their business, but Mjadu says that whatever the process, a strong and solid strategy is essential.

She shares five key points of a good exit strategy:

1. It tells you when you are done

Mjadu says that a good exit strategy should reflect a core understanding of all the intricacies of your business and should be able to tell you when the lifecycle of your business (or of your involvement in the business) should come to an end. This is usually done by including a set of tangible measurables or objectives so that it is easy to ascertain when these have been achieved.

Related: When Do You Know It’s Time To Sell Your Business

2. It sets out the right environment within which to exit

A good exit strategy considers the economic, social and political environment at the time of your exit. Mjadu says that this is important in order to plan for a secure financial future.

“Failure to think about this could result in short-changing yourself by exiting during a tough economic climate when the risk to buyers reduces the value of your business.”

She references the case of Victoria’s Secret when founder, Roy Raymond, sold the failing business for $1m unknowing that it would later grow into the multi-billion dollar empire it is now. “While Raymond’s exit was ultimately necessary for Victoria’s Secret’s growth, he sold it in 1982 during the global recession of the early eighties – one of the world’s biggest financial crises and this influenced the selling price at his exit”.

3. It compensates those who have contributed to the life of your business

It is important to consider the impact your exit could have on investors and staff, says Mjadu. “Closing shop for example, means that your staff no longer have employment at your business. Selling could mean the same.” She adds that it is important to consider ways in which your exit could also benefit these stakeholders – for example, selling to a bigger business could mean more career opportunities for your staff, as well as continued job security.

4. It compensates you

Mjadu says that entrepreneurs often struggle to recognise their own true worth, especially when this involves attaching a monetary value to what has been achieved. “The time of exiting a business is no place to short-change yourself. You need to get out the full worth of what you put in,” she says, explaining that this means ensuring that you are financially secure before and while you go into your next venture.

“Your needs for retirement and medical insurance, as well as the maintenance of your living standard, should be met at your exit.”

Related: Want to Exit the Company? Here’s Your Shareholder Exit Strategy

5. It sustains your entrepreneurial drive

Mjadu says that while you may be nearing the end of one journey, your exit should enable and encourage you to continue to be an entrepreneur – and to look forward to the next journey. “Your entrepreneurial skills and capacity do not end when you exit your business and whatever your strategy, it should egg you on to more entrepreneurial activity including becoming a mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Mjadu says that exiting your business should allow you a good retrospective look at what you have done over the years – and so planning the strategy early on in your business lifecycle will set you up in regards to what you hope to achieve. “Upon exit, you should be able to say that you have done what you set out to do, financially and socially, and you have some energy left to do more elsewhere.”

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Search Is On For SA’S Online Retailer Of The Year

World Wide Worx in partnership with Platinum Seed, Visa, Heavy Chef and the Ecommerce Forum of Africa, launch new awards to recognise online stores that promote shopper trust.

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World Wide Worx today announced that it was launching a new awards programme — called the Online Retailer of the Year — to honour online stores in South Africa that grow trust amongst digital shoppers. The awards are part of a broader project to boost online shopping by World Wide Worx in partnership with Visa, Platinum Seed, the Ecommerce Forum of Africa and Heavy Chef.

“Online retail in South Africa has consistently grown above 20% since the turn of the century but only passed 1% of overall retail in 2016. Research shows that trust is a big factor in ecommerce growth, which is why we want to recognise online retailers who help to grow the entire sector by ensuring the kind of ecommerce standards that engender trust with online shoppers,” Goldstuck says.

“But once online retail passes two per cent it crosses an essential psychological barrier and this often leads to a tipping point in emerging economies. That’s when we see online retail snowballing. It gathers real momentum and everyone in the sector benefits,” Goldstuck explains.

To be eligible for entry to the Online Retailer of the Year, owners of digital stores are urged to participate in an essential survey of local online shopping being run by Goldstuck’s World Wide Worx, together with Visa and digital growth agency Platinum Seed.

To participate in the research, local online retailers can go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/OnlineRetailSA

All online retailers who participate will be entered into the award. However, participation in the survey is not a precondition for entry to the awards. However, only online retailers who operate from within South Africa’s borders are eligible for this local award.

The awards will be made at a Heavy Chef event in Cape Town on Thursday, October 01 2018. At the same event, World Wide Worx’s Arthur Goldstuck will lay bare the state of local retail, with Brad Elliott, CEO of Platinum Seed, and Visa.

Related: Up To R1 Million In Funding For Tech Solutions To Early Childhood Challenges

Goldstuck, who is judging the awards, will present the following awards:

  • Online Retailer of The Year
  • 1st runner-up – Online Retailer of the Year
  • 2nd runner-up – Online Retailer of the Year
  • Best New SA Online Retailer of the Year.

The winners of the Online Retailer of the Year awards will be given a digital badge that the online store can display online. The winners will have bragging rights for a year — until the next award is made in 2019.

Judging criteria for the awards include trust, innovation, customer service, digital excellence, customer engagement, product excellence, and the online reputation of the digital store. Visa, Heavy Chef, and Platinum Seed will oversee the judging of the awards. The Ecommerce Forum of Africa will audit the results.

Retailers or entrepreneurs who want to attend the awards and presentation of the research results by Goldstuck can purchase tickets from Heavy Chef.

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Up To R1 Million In Funding For Tech Solutions To Early Childhood Challenges

Applications from individuals, non-profit and for profit organisations are welcome. Innovation Edge accepts early stage ideas pre or post proof of concept phase.

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Innovation Edge, an early stage investor and venture builder, has launched a call for tech solutions to problems faced by young children and those who care for them. The most promising ideas stand the chance to receive up to R1 million in funding and will have access to a range of incubation support. Qualifying ideas will address a defined need within early childhood and have a sustainable route to scale that includes families living in poverty.

Deadline for submissions is 19 October 2018.

The human brain is naturally wired to learn, but the brain’s capacity to absorb new information and learn new skills is most pronounced in the first 5 years of life. During this period of development, not only does the brain learn best, but it gets wired in ways that impact lifelong learning. Experiences during early childhood literally shape the architecture of the developing brain.

Sonja Giese, Executive Director for Innovation Edge, explains why investing in solutions to early childhood problems is critical; “ Eight out of 10 Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning. Six out of 10 Grade 5 learners cannot do basic maths. These scores are predictive of final school outcomes, meaning that by the age of 10 years, a child is on the educational trajectory she will most likely follow.”

“There is no conceivable way in which South Africa will realise its development goals, including increased employment, radical economic transformation, reduced crime and dependable leadership, without significantly altering the current trajectories of our youngest citizens. This sector is desperate for innovative solutions that offer impact at scale.”

Related: The Truth About Venture Capital Funding

While Innovation Edge welcomes submissions for any bold ideas at any time throughout the year, this call is specifically focused on tech solutions to early childhood challenges.

Examples of the types of challenges that applicants are invited to respond to include the following :

  1. Paper-based systems of recording classroom attendance are time-consuming and lacking in accuracy. How might you create a tech solution that enables pre-school teachers (in both high/mid and low income environments) to quickly capture verifiable classroom attendance for children aged 3 to 6 years?
  2. Young children’s (birth to 6) developing brains thrive from having daily positive back and forth conversations with their parents. How might you create a tech solution to help parents (in both high/mid and low income environments) embed this behaviour into their daily lives?
  3. Approximately 33% of women living in adversity will experience a mental illness (primarily depression) during or after pregnancy.  What opportunities could tech offer to support mothers, particularly those in low-income environments, who are suffering from depression?

Applications from individuals, non-profit and for profit organisations are welcome. Innovation Edge accepts early stage ideas pre or post proof of concept phase.

To submit a proposed solution and for more information on Innovation Edge visit http://innovationedge.org.za/opportunity-hub/.

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