Almentor, an edtech which is a video based online learning platform for North Africa and The Middle East has raised $6.5 million in Series B funding led by Partech from its Africa Fund.
The startup was founded in 2016 by Ihad Fikry and Ibrahim Kamel to fill in the gap in the Middle East and North Africa as there was a huge e-learning deficit there.
“We live in a region with a population of 400 million-plus people but 90% of them cannot learn properly in any other language but Arabic,” Ihab Fikry, Almentor’s co-founder and CEO, disclosed to TechCabal.
The world of online learning is very broad as gamification, websites that allow streaming are currently dominating the market which makes it more difficult for new entrants to have a substantial market share. Competitors to Almentor include much older companies like TED-Ed, Khan Academy and Crash Course. What does Almentor bring to the crowded market place that will guarantee a significant customer base? Fikry describes Almentor as sharing the attributes of renowned platforms like Masterclass, Udemy and LinkedIn Learning.
It charges users a subscription to access its library of 12,000 videos.
The platform has a video-on-demand feature that allows its learners to stream content as well as take exams and ask & answer questions from an avalanche of topics. Almentor can be accessed in Nigeria but its focus is to serve the needs of the Arabic market. We don’t know whether it has expansion plans in the future to serve the non Arabic market. Their library includes mathematics, history, natural sciences and training material for corporations. For social sciences where context may vary between countries, creators are selected from various countries to ensure the material is relevant. However, many users can find similarities because virtually every course is available in Arabic.
Almentor works with subject-matter teachers and professional content creators around the MENA region to create the courses. The company and the creators share revenue from subscriptions based on an agreement on exclusivity and whole ownership of the content by Almentor.
Fikry said that they have so far received well over 3000 applications from would be content creators but have only streamlined their acceptance to just 12% so as not to compromise on quality. They also aggressively engage the services of successful academics in tertiary institutions and ensure that they provide mentorship services for their users.
So far, Almentor has provided 2 million successful learning experiences to users. Fikry explains this metric means the learner has consumed at least 25% of the learning material.
Learning categories differ from basic (30% of their library) to intermediate and advanced levels.
An archetypal Almentor learner is between ages 18 and 40 years old. 51% of learners are male while 49% are female. 60% are from Egypt, 25% are from Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain. The rest come from Algeria, Morocco, Niger and Arabs living in the US and UK.
In terms of socioeconomic status, Fikry says Almentor learners are between the middle and upper class.
“For those in Class A+, they prefer to learn in English though some learn in French. For others, almost 40% can only learn in Arabic,” Fikry, a PhD holder who used to be a management professor and PWC consultant, explains.
One key attribute of Almentor is the fact that it has sealed about eighty partnership deals with organizations and governments in Egypt. Its learning delivery is tailored around the local curriculum of Egypt and is devoid of any form of ideological leaning and so there is no worry as to any form of radicalization of any kind both now and in the future.
Regardless of the country or the partnership, Almentor’s promise is that users will “learn from a subject matter expert without being driven to any ideology,” Fikry insists.
It is a sophisticated commitment that requires a range of management skills, beyond merely setting up technology for streaming and learning. It also needs capital to achieve its potential, Fikry says, which explains why they have sought out investors to continue to build.
As with having governments on board, working with VCs “gives credibility to the platform as we are serving an area with lots of dynamics,” Fikry says.
The reason why they aligned with Partech is because of its global spread of the Venture Capitalist with portfolios in Fintech, Edtech and a host of other sectors. Almentor will tap into their great wealth of experience as it desires to exponentially scale its operations. With this Series B, Almentor has now raised $14.5 million.
It launched the funding gates with a $3.5 million seed fund in 2016. In 2019, Almentor’s $4.5 million Series A was led by Sawari Ventures, an Egyptian firm that closed a $71 million fund in April. Sawari also invested in this Series B round as Sango Capital, a firm based in South Africa.
Cyril Collon, general partner at Partech, described Fikry and his co-founder as “two fantastic mission-driven entrepreneurs.”
He believes Almentor is the leading platform for self-learning in the Middle East and Africa, and is looking forward to helping the company expand access to “on-demand cutting-edge personal learning & developments options.”
Arabic is not the only language of instruction on the platform as it uses English – the world’s most widely spread language as well. Its subscriber base is now about one million. The courses sell for between $20 to $30 and they have provided wonderful learning experiences to about two million people in its five years of existence.
Cyril Collon, General Partner at Partech said:
“Since our first interaction, we have been very impressed by Ihab and Ibrahim, two fantastic mission-driven entrepreneurs who have been executing on a bold vision since 2016, and who built the leading Arabic self-learning go-to content provider in the Middle East and Africa. We are looking forward to supporting the company in its next phase of growth to serve the 430 million Arabic-speaking population and expand access to on-demand cutting-edge personal learning & development options.”
The choice of Arabic is also highly strategic as there are more than 400 million speakers of the language globally and so it’s a huge market waiting to be adequately tapped.
The demography is also highly strategic as the millennials and gen z generations will be adequately covered. Their learning needs are more online based to the influence of the internet and Almentor’s offering will greatly appeal to them in no small measure. E-learning is the future of edtech and it experienced a surge during the pandemic.
Almentor is certainly tapping into a growing market and its growth metrics will be the subject of interest among industry analysts.