Why We Do What We Do

by g.Maarifa Team

Our world’s best and most precious resource is not diamonds. Or oil. Or gold. They are not any high net worth natural resources.

Our most precious resource is people; human capital is the foundation for all other industry, and the basis upon which we benefit from all other resources.

It is said that people are a business’s best asset. Early investors must believe as much in the founders of a company as its idea, and employers recognize that their businesses’ potential is only as big as the collective brain power of the employees; that’s why training in the workplace is a $291 billion per annum industry.

This is true on a national level as well; a country can only be as developed so far as its human capital allows. As a result governments focus on increasing primary school enrollment and national literacy rates, with significant improvements in the last two decades. The global literacy rate has risen from 76% to 84% between 1990 and 2010, and gross primary school enrollment is now at an astounding 106%. This is even the trend for countries low on the Human Development Index (such as Kenya or Mali).

Yet receiving basic education does not guarantee a stable livelihood. In the developing world, there are few opportunities for continuing education after one leaves the formal education system. Books are expensive and quickly become outdated. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and webinars, as well as other types of E-learning, are costly and hard to access, especially if prospective students live in rural areas where Internet services generally do not exist or are not affordable. The only viable method is in-person training, held by either their workplaces or private sector organizations, such as NGOs.

However, in-person training is costly, inefficient, and sporadic. Participants generally have to travel to central locations for training, which proves to be expensive due to accommodation costs as well as being a massive time sink in developing countries with poor transport infrastructure. Most importantly, by attending in-person training, participants would forgo work opportunities and so income, which they may not have the financial security to do so. Furthermore it is difficult to evaluate the benefits of training sessions without bringing everyone together once again. Thus for organizations whose sales staff, distribution agents and field staff are dispersed throughout a country, follow-ups and monitoring are rarely done, despite their benefits, resulting in less efficiency, lost revenue and a small impact.

g.Maarifa has a novel situation to this problem. We are offering a unique, attractive and viable alternative to in-person training that allows our end users to access the same content at their own convenience – anytime from anywhere. We’re taking advantage of high mobile penetration rates: 69% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 96% in Middle East and North Africa. We have created an interactive and customizable platform that allows organizations to develop and deliver content, to evaluate its impacts through testing, to track individual and group performance, and to manage and analyze data. The end users engage with the system by reading the content, answering questions, getting immediate feedback to responses, and receiving points. Our most basic medium is SMS as it can reach everybody regardless of resources and we are in the process of developing feature, smartphone, and tablet apps to cater to the entire socio-economic spectrum.

All this is important because we invest in the people who otherwise would not have the chance to reach their full potential. We want to change labor markets by enabling in the people, we want to encourage everybody to thrive and contribute as best they can, and we want to be your partner on this.

August 30, 2012

Written by Evanna

The ambition and level of dedication of g.Maarifa youths never cease to impress me. On Tuesday, we went back to one of the pilot testing sites since it was the midway point of our testing. They like the content and the technology, although they did point out some bugs that we have been battling but are now fixed. They said that the are engrossed by the content because all the case studies made the units read more like a story than instructions. But mostly, they were eager to continue with the course so that they can start looking for jobs.

Many are devoting 2-3 hours everyday on the course material, quizzing each other on the content outside the unit quizzes they are given, and practicing the skills taught to them in our professional etiquette units. They are wondering if we have courses that will deepen their knowledge in areas such as accounting, journalism, and hospitality. Their thirst for hard-to-access information is enormous and their dedication to learn the hard-to-access information is mind blowing.

These youths are unemployed not because they are not willing to work hard or because they are uneducated. On the contrary, they are working hard everyday to scrape together enough money for them and their family members. They just do not have enough opportunities. We seek to change that. We want to give them the opportunities to prove their talent and potential and open new doors for them. That is the mission of g.Maarifa.