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Passion for Africa led entrepreneur to opening a languages academy

Dzinotyiwei's online platform makes learning lingos fun and interactive

Chido Dzinotyiwei, the founder of Vambo Academy.
Chido Dzinotyiwei, the founder of Vambo Academy.
Image: Vukuzenzele

Chido Dzinotyiwei’s passion for Africa and its languages encouraged her to develop Vambo Academy, an online platform that makes learning languages fun and interactive.

Dzinotyiwei, 25, who holds a BSc honours, specialising in economics, and a master's in development finance from the University of Cape Town, came up with the idea in her gap year.

“I needed money for travelling when attending job interviews and social events, so I started thinking of my inherent skills and decided to monetise one or two of them. I am fluent in my mother tongue, Shona, and happened to know parents who were struggling to teach their children Shona,” says Dzinotyiwei.

“My first student was a six-year-old boy, and he is still a student today. The business grew steadily, but once the pandemic started, we took it online. What we see today is the product of that investment,” she adds.

The platform offers beginner and intermediate lessons in Zulu, Ndebele and Shona, a dictionary service, and blog posts and podcasts on cultural topics.

Students can either use the self-learning tool and learn at their own pace, or book a virtual session with an experienced tutor for a one-on-one, personalised learning experience.

“Through Vambo, I want to create access to education on the continent. Language is one of the main barriers that prevents students from pursuing their dreams,” says Dzinotyiwei.

Over the next few years, she wants to develop a tool to translate languages.

“We are also working on using technology to improve traditional learning methods. The main goal now is to have as many African languages as possible presented adequately on our platform.”

This article first appeared in the GCIS's Vuk'uzenzele

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