[Startup Interview] Caleb Ndaka, Co-Founder, Kids Comp Camp, Kenya
Caleb Ndaka is the Co-Founder of Kids Comp Camp, a Kenyan startup helping young learners in Africa’s underserved communities access quality computing training, right in their community, and empowering them to explore new opportunities in technology.
Would you please introduce your company/startup?
Kids Comp Camp seeks to help children (and now adults around them) in rural and underserved communities catch up with the current digital driven society. Kids Comp Camp reaches out to contacts in rural areas where exposure to computers is very limited or non-existent. We spend time with them and research on big, complex problems facing these communities and define broad opportunity areas, leveraging education technology, to form relevant context for our training. Then we partner with local institutions to run double-edged program, one edge serving children through after-school tech literacy program and the other community-based training helping adults around our targeted children, especially their parents, teachers and out of school youth, so that they are equally empowered to support or train children in their communities, as well as improve their own livelihoods.
What would you say gives your company a competitive edge?
Our competitive edge is primarily driven by the audience we seek to serve in last mile communities. We serve the least served. We reach the unreached. They remain least engaged. Schools and training facilities do not offer up-to-date curriculum, teachers are unmotivated and significantly under-resourced. Kids Comp Camp changes this narrative by winning community ownership through engaging community leaders and partnering with local community institutions to provide quality, accessible, and impactful training. Our curriculums are updated, delivered by passionate and skilled trainers and content made more engaging and interactive by utilizing current web and mobile technologies.
Who are Kids Comp Camp clients?
Kids Comp Camp primary clients are children in rural and underserved communities and in order to support that impact we’re training adults around these children mainly targeting parents, teachers and their older siblings and relatives.
What are the ambitions of your startup going forward?
In the past four years, Kids Comp Camp has managed to serve 8,000 in Kenya and Rwanda. Our next milestone over the next two years is to reach and serve sustainably 20,000 beneficiaries. We have dubbed this milestone #Vision20K. To strengthen our sustainability model we are working to have more paid adult training to boost our incomes. The paid training incomes goes to support the children program offered at NO cost.
How has the market responded to your services?
The market has been good to us. We have received a lot of support from communities we are working this. This has helped us validate the problem and also continue to iterate our solution and operation model. We started off by running school holiday session, then expanded to holidays plus weekends now we have adults training and soon launching a session specifically targeting small business on rural communities. Watch this space.
Why do you feel coding is essential for today's young students?
I believe coding helps young learners to own learning by exploring small ways they can be creative and create stuff on computers and devices instead of just playing with them. It is always amazing to see little faces light up when they write a line of code to move a shape from one side of the screen to the other. It also builds confidence in technology especially among young learners in rural communities where tech is associated with adults and Born Town (BT). Beyond the shadow of doubt, code is powering our digital world by building the most essential services such as M-pesa and internet. This makes young learners who understand and appreciate how code works the architects and builders of this digital age.
With the world experiencing seismic shifts in the way we live and work, do you believe coding is the new literacy?
To some extent it is, but it is not a stand-alone. It needs equal support from the main literacies level. This is a challenge we daily see in our rural setting. Kids need to learn how to read and write before they can code. Right? But yes, coding helps learners communicate, be connected and understand the big concepts behind main systems and processes, that drive the world, for instance, the internet. It helps learners embrace 21st-century learning skills such as communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing. This forms the basis for our cause. Kids Comp Camp believes every child in this age have four basic needs; ability to read and write, play and write code:-)
The great thing about learning to code is that it embodies the idea that sometimes learning can effective when you’re not aware you’re learning. Is this really the case?
I believe coding is not different from any other learning concept. It requires intentionality both on the part of learner and teacher. It requires input. It requires time. It requires support. It is a growing process. It takes different learning curves for different learners and therefore It is important for the teacher to really understand their learners and help them learn the most. Learning can be made more interactive and engaging but this may not make it a walk in the park and bypass the essential learning requirements.
How many schools do you work with across Kenya?
So far we have worked with slightly over 80 schools in 10 counties in Kenya and over 100 in the waiting list. What happened is after our promo video we shared this link for guys to nominate schools that would benefit from the program. The response was overwhelming. We have worked with churches and community centres.
What is the latest news from your startup?
We’re tinkering with something exciting and you can lend a hand-up to help rural small business and rural youth. 40% of Parents whose kids have attended Kids Comp Camp run a small business. In Kenya, 90% of rural small business close before turning 5; about 1.2 Million have closed in the last 5 years. It is an extreme sport to run a small business here. This year, we take up a challenge to help small businesses in rural Kenya, in communities we work with, to leverage technology to grow and thrive in this increasingly digital economy. Because when rural small business thrives, local communities also thrive and they are better placed to support their Kids learn and embrace technology. This makes our ultimate joy and fulfils our goal. Please read more here on how we intend to this.
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