Not just “Facebook” for schools”
The FounderAfter completing her studies at the University of Cape Town, Barbara Mallinson moved to London where she worked for a large corporation. “I hated it,” she admits, and so decided to look elsewhere. As a consequence she founded and developed Obami, which is a Zulu word meaning “mine”, and pitching her innovative idea to schools in the United Kingdom. Perhaps it was the homesickness or the realization that South Africa’s market potential was greater, but eventually she packed her bags and moved back to sunny South Africa. Barbara initially ran the business from her home in Knysna, but has since relocated to Cape Town.
What Obami DoesObami is an innovative social network and e-learning system designed specifically for primary and secondary schools with the aim of easing and securing communication between pupils, teachers and parents. On this platform, educators, learners and their families are able to collaborate, interact and collectively benefit from social media. The best part is that Obami is offered completely free to schools. The social network is also completely safe, operating on the “walled garden” principle: only registered schools are able to access or join the community. Obami currently has 35 schools registered in South Africa, with many more waiting in queue and with schools from the UK, France and Greece in the pipeline.
What makes Obami a Success StoryObami was hand-picked as IS Labs’ first incubation project. It was also one of the ten companies from across the world selected for the 2011 Netexplorateur Forum, as well as one of the ten South African ICT startups chosen to attend the Seedcamp Week programme in London in 2010.
Words of Advice“There’s a delicate balance between getting the hard slog done and spending time networking (both are so important to a new business). Just keep at it – it’s amazing what doors are opened when you exercise passion and determination, while having a clear focus and positive mindset to match,” says Barbara.
"Obami has just hit the 100 registered schools mark!" says Barbara. "Many of which come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. It has been amazing to watch how enthusiastic they are about social learning. We're also heading off to Europe to grow our community there, with our very first "Obami Gathering"being hosted by one of our registered schools in the UK. Obami has also been busy setting up partnerships with other players within the schools market.
We'll soon be collaborating on amazing projects with companies who can add enormous value to our users' lives - all in the name of changing education for the better.
To visit Obami’s website, click here.
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