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Naspers invest R45m in Student Hub

Naspers yesterday announced a-R45 million investment in The Student Hub, an online learning platform.

The funding by Naspers Foundry, the company’s R1.4-billion early-stage tech investment vehicle, is its fourth deal, bringing its total investments to approximately R200-million since launch in 2019.

The Student Hub increases access to vocational education to large numbers of students, while reducing the costs of delivery of education and training. The company helps overcome the constraints of limited physical infrastructure and related resources by partnering with government accredited Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges to help them deliver courses online. The online platform also connects graduates with work opportunities related to their skills set.

“The work of Naspers Foundry is one of the key focus areas of our business in South Africa,” says Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO of Naspers. “We believe tech companies have the potential to be the cornerstone of South Africa’s economic growth and we want to play a role in unlocking that potential. Our investment in The Student Hub is an example of how digitalisation has the potential to address unequal access to education, create local opportunities, and enable increased participation towards a more inclusive economy.”

Fabian Whate, Head of Naspers Foundry, said: “Over the last 18 months, Naspers Foundry has supported promising, best-in-class early stage tech businesses run by local entrepreneurs that have significant long-term potential and address societal needs. We are thrilled with our first edtech investment as Naspers Foundry, and we look forward to working with Hertzy and his team at The Student Hub. We continue to execute transactions against a robust pipeline of potential investment opportunities.”

Hertzy Kabeya, founder and CEO of The Student Hub, said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Naspers given their deep international experience in the edtech sector. We are a technology company that believes that improving access to education to millions of students across South Africa is at the core of what we do. Linking graduates with the right economic opportunities that relates to their skills are what the economy needs right now.”

The Student Hub digitalises TVET course content to present curricula in a personalised and learner-centric environment through a fully online distance-learning model, as well as through a blended learning model to students who attend classes in person at TVET campuses nationwide. The platform provides tools for lecturers and tutors to track individual student performance and for heads of faculties to measure the productivity and performance of lecturers in real time, resulting in a marked increase in pass rates. Its crowdfunding tools assist students in financing their studies and enable donors to follow the progress of their beneficiaries, while an integrated skills marketplace matches graduates to entry-level job placements.

In 2019, Naspers Foundry invested R30-million in online home cleaning services business, SweepSouth, and R100-million in May this year, in agritech business Aerobotics, a subscription-based artificial intelligence company. In September, it invested in Food Supply Network, a B2B online marketplace that integrates food ordering systems across the food services industry.

Of the total R4.6-billion that Naspers committed to invest at the inaugural South Africa Investment Conference, which includes the R1.4-billion for Naspers Foundry, the group has so far invested R1.9-billion of its original pledge in its existing South Africa businesses Takealot, Mr D Food, Superbalist, Media24 and OLX.

Additionally, R69-million has been invested in Naspers Labs, Naspers’s youth development programme, which provides unemployed young people with the confidence and training to pursue tech careers in preparation for a more digitally-driven local economy.

Naspers donated R500-million to the Solidarity Fund towards the country’s Covid-19 relief efforts and sourced and delivered R1-billion’s worth of personal protection equipment for South Africa’s frontline healthcare workers earlier this year.

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