Kenyan edtech startup Craydel raises $1 million to grow its higher education platform

Kenyan edtech startup Craydel, a platform for comparing colleges, course options and tuition fees, has secured $1 million in a pre-seed round that will go toward improving its search and recommendation technology and enhancing its online resources. 

The round was led by Enza Capital, a private venture fund that invests in early-stage tech startups across Africa. Other investors in the round include Future of Learning Fund, a Kenya-based edtech backer; BriteGaze, a South African artificial intelligence fund; Bisk Ventures; a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm; and Tekton Ventures, a San Francisco-based technology investment firm.

Kenya-based Chandaria Capital, Nigeria-based LoftyInc Afropreneurs Fund and an array of other angel investors, including founders and top executives of Africa’s leading SaaS, e-commerce and education startups, joined as well.

Craydel was launched earlier this year by co-founders Manish Sardana, John Nguru and Shayne Aman Premji. It was inspired by the lack of a reliable portal in Africa to guide decisions on college and course selection. This provided a window of opportunity for the trio to bring to life a platform that would eliminate this challenge. Through Craydel, the founders said, they are giving power back to students by providing them with access to a portal that offers verified information about colleges to help them in decision-making.

“An estimated $30 billion is spent every year on higher education in Africa,” Sardana, Craydel’s CEO, said. “But the current student experience in accessing higher education is abysmal. There is no aggregation of choices, and decision-making is influenced by biases and misinformation.”

“We are transforming the way students discover, compare and apply to higher education in Africa,” he said. 

Craydel provides students with options at every level, including online certificate programs, for which they can enroll to test the waters before settling on a final decision about the careers they want to pursue. 

“We believe in the power of the youth in Africa to create lasting transformative change. And Craydel is driven to empower them to access the best education pathways to unleash their true potential,” said Sardana.

Premji, Craydel’s chief financial officer, told TechCrunch that the edtech startup also takes the students through a career assessment to ensure they are a good fit for the chosen program and college. It also guides them on course application and visa processes.

The startup has so far partnered with more than 90 universities and vocational colleges in Africa and abroad, and currently provides a listing of 3,000 higher education programs.

With the new funding, Craydel is set to embark on a new path to build its search and recommendation engine for more spot-on suggestions, as well as build resources that will help students and professionals in the decision-making.  

“This paradox of choice is sometimes not a good thing,” Premji said. “So, we’re building using AI at the search and recommendation engine, which is proprietary technology to us. Through it, students or working professionals will tell us their interests, grades, budgets. We will also talk about their career aspirations and conduct aptitude assessments. The outcome of all these assessments is a curated list of the leading potential choices for them.”

The edtech space in Africa is still nascent, but it is expected to grow as internet penetration deepens — connecting more people — and as more students enroll in higher education across the continent.

Spending on education in Africa is expected to grow to $740 billion by 2030, at a 14% compound annual growth rate, and edtech spending is projected to expand fast, reaching $57 billion by 2030. Africa’s burgeoning young population provides an opportunity for the growth of companies such as Craydel, with edtech providing solutions for many challenges, including those of accessibility, quality, affordability and information.

​​Kenya has several edtech startups, including Kidato, which launched last year to offer live lessons for students up to 18 years old; Eneza Education, which enables learning through mobile technology; and e-Limu, a literacy app.

“Access to higher education and skills development for Africa’s growing youth population remains fragmented, yet is a fundamental cornerstone to our accelerated development,” said Enza Capital managing partner Mike Mompi, who is set to join Craydel’s board of directors.

“Craydel is building the rails to democratize access to higher education and to support millions of Africans up this curve.”