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Addis Ababa to host the Social Enterprise World Forum…

The Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF), the leading international forum for social entrepreneurship and social investment, is set to be hosted in Addis Ababa next year.

With growing popularity of social enterprises in the country, the gathering is to be the first time such an event has taken place in the region which was first started in Edinburgh in 2008, rotating in a number of countries around the world. Click here to read the full article

News

Bruktawit Tigabu awarded Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the year…

Bruktawit Tigabu awarded Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the year 2018 by the Schwab Foundation at World Economic Forum.

Bruktawit Tigabu awarded Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the year 2018
Bruktawit Tigabu awarded Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the year 2018

Bruktawit Tigabu began her professional career as a primary school teacher in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Determined to improve the conditions of children in her country, she looked for ways to educate children on a mass scale. In 2005, with her husband, Bruktawit established the educational multimedia enterprise Whiz Kids Workshop. Working from their living room, using sock puppets, computer graphics and their own voices, they began producing Tsehai Loves Learning, the first educational preschool television program in the country. Whiz Kids Workshop went on to develop further programs and win numerous international awards such as the Next Generation Prize at Prix Jeunesse International (2008) and the Japan Prize International Contest for Educational Media (2008, 2009). Bruktawit was named a Rolex Young Laureate in 2010 and one of Fast Company’s 2012 most creative people in business.

Whiz Kids Workshop

Whiz Kids is filling the educational gaps for Ethiopia’s children and young people through mass media. It uses the wide reach of television, radio and print media in Ethiopia to disseminate educational messages in seven local languages with an emphasis on early childhood education, healthy behaviour, literacy and gender equality.

Whiz Kids’ educational programmes include Whiz Kids’ flagship, international award-winning programme: Tsehai Loves Learning, launched in 2007, which is a TV and radio programme aimed to educate children aged three to eight about health, ethics and literacy. It was the first programme of its kind to be created in Ethiopia, and has become a national hit, reaching up to 5 million TV viewers every week and an estimated 10 million radio listeners. Other programmes include the TV and radio show Tibeb Girls, which tackles gender-based violence and discrimination and seeks to educate and empower teenage girls, and the TV shows Involve Me and Little Investigators, which give teenagers a voice and encourage their scientific curiosity.

Whiz Kids works closely with schools and trains teachers to integrate their educational programmes into the classroom, for which Whiz Kids produces DVDs and complementary learning materials. They are also sold on Amazon and to organizations such as Save the Children and World Vision. All of Whiz Kids’ educational materials are developed in-house, based on research in innovative pedagogy. The Ethiopian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education both sit in the Content Advisory Group and provide technical and content creation support, as well as access to government schools for research and testing.

Whiz Kids is diligent in monitoring the impact and efficiency of its educational materials. For instance, in 2015, Whiz Kids conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of the Tsehai Loves Learning health-related TV episodes and found that children’s health knowledge doubled in comparison to a control group after being exposed to them. These findings led to the integration of the programme into 400 schools (reaching more than 150,000 children and their teachers) and the development of a software application to monitor the integration in partnership with local government.

Features

Whiz Kids Workshop

Pioneers Post talks to Bruktawit Tigabu, the creator of Ethiopia’s most loved animated giraffe, ahead of her speech at the Social Enterprise World Forum.

Bruktawit Tigabu
Bruktawit Tigabu

Whiz Kids Workshop brings educational TV shows, radio programmes and books to the homes of children across Ethiopia. The brainchild of Bruktawit Tigabu, a primary school teacher with the desire to bring quality education to more children, Whiz Kids was born from her living room, with an animation initially made up of some sock puppets and computer graphics.

Centered on a giraffe called Tsehai who loves to ask questions, that animation – Tsehai Loves Learning – now has 5 million viewers every week. And Tigabu hasn’t stopped there. Whiz Kids has continued with a range of other series, from cartoons promoting science to Tigabu’s latest project, Tibeb Girls: an animation about a group of superhero girls whose adventures will draw attention to human rights issues faced by the country’s young women.

Tigabu talks to Pioneers Post journalist Caroline Hailstone ahead of the Social Enterprise World Forum, where she is due to be speaking. She discusses the birth of Whiz Kids, as well as her involvement in Ethiopia’s new social enterprise network Social Enterprise Ethiopia….

Caroline Hailstone: What is Whiz Kids workshop?

Bruktawit Tigabu: We’re a social enterprise that develops and produces educational media in the form of TV shows, radio programmes, books and telephone apps to bring children the gift of a quality education.

CH: How did your Whiz Kids journey begin?

BT: I was a school teacher and was looking for ways to reach a range of children with good quality education, especially those in early childhood. Not many children get the opportunity to attend kindergarten or pre-school programmes, because many of those require high fees.

There is much research to support the fact that children who begin education in their early childhood do well in high school and life in general. So I wanted to bring that kind of opportunity to as many children as possible. Mass media is a tool to reach children in a very cost-effective way, so that’s why we created the first children’s animation show in Ethiopia and that has been broadcast for over ten years, reaching about 5 million children every week.

CH: What is the animation?

BT: The show is called Tsehai Loves Learning. Tsehai is a little, six-year-old giraffe who loves to ask questions and learn from everything. She is the role model for the show and it is about the things she is learning for that day.

CH: Why do you think social enterprises are important in Ethiopia?

BT: I think we need to do business in a different way in order to challenge the massive problems we are facing: from social or environmental issues, to anything else that needs to be looked at from a different perspective. I don’t think ‘business as usual’ can take us further than we are right now. Social business puts the beneficiaries at the centre – doing the business around them and trying to make their lives better. I think this kind of business should be promoted as much as possible.

CH: How did your position as chair of Social Enterprise Ethiopia come about?

BT: Six of us met at a social enterprise summit in Europe and we were so inspired looking at businesses from all over the world that address poverty, job creation, health, and education. We thought that if we could encourage other social enterprises in our country it could create a big impact, and doing it together is much more powerful than doing it alone.

We’re taking on the challenge of promoting ‘social business’ to Ethiopia

We hope to grow the network as much as possible, and eventually let the government and everyone else know what social business is about. The term ‘social business’ is not that common in Ethiopia, so we’re taking on the challenge of promoting it to our community.

CH: Has it been going well so far?

BT: Yes, I think it’s going really well. We’re gaining new members every day. I think a lot of people are very interested to know more about it because all six of us do different things but all of our businesses are very interesting.

CH: What do you hope to achieve in the upcoming year with Whiz Kids?

BT: We’re going to launch a new show about three superhero girls who are tackling issues like the fact that girls get kept behind from school. I want to finish the first season in the next year and a half and broadcast it in a few African countries beyond Ethiopia. So that’s a new challenge that I am excited about.

CH: What challenges do you face as a woman in business yourself?

BT: As a woman it’s interesting because we face all the usual trials that anyone running a business in Ethiopia faces, but with the extra pressure to prove yourself and prove that you are serious. It’s not as easy as it should be – from not getting the appointment you want to have immediately to having somebody around trying to make your life harder. The challenges are different but in general I sometimes say to myself, “This wouldn’t happen if I were a different gender.”

I sometimes say to myself, “This wouldn’t happen if I were a different gender”

CH: Are you looking forward to the Social Enterprise World Forum this year?

BT: I think this is going to be our springboard to really make Social Enterprise Ethiopia much stronger because we are going to learn a lot from the others there. We’re really going to take this as a big learning platform to not only strengthen our campaign but also the whole ecosystem in our country. So we’re super excited!

This interview was conducted and published by Pioneers Post as part of the Global Perspectives on Social Enterprise article collection and is republished here with permission.