Jean Marie Vianney Karegeya was completing his final year of study at the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA), when the idea to create an innovative solution to poor management in schools came to him. The software engineering student says that idea was stimulated while doing internship at his grandmother’s school in Nyagatare. “I was serving as an administrative assistant at the time and saw the challenges that schools face in their daily activities,” he says. The plan was an EdTech (short for ‘education technology’) start-up, however, the resources to get it started were inadequate. “A new business, especially an EdTech start-up, is costly and requires significant funding. There were challenges in securing the necessary financing to develop, launch and market the platform.” Getting started Looking at how his grandmother and other educationalists have dedicated their lives to improving the sector, and the challenges they face, Karegeya pushed to get his start-up, SchoolNest, up and running. “My grandmother is a teacher and has had no other job outside of education her entire life, this inspired me to follow in her footsteps and make a positive impact in the field,” he says. There was also an opportunity to use technology and make learning more accessible and effective for students. “I was driven by my passion for education and my belief in the power of technology to revolutionise the education sector,” he adds. SchoolNest The EdTech start-up that was launched in 2021 was used by seven schools in the first academic year, and 14 schools in the second academic year. “It has helped to revolutionise the way education is delivered in the country and has been well-received by both students and teachers,” he says. According to Karegeya, the platform has also gained attention from educators in Kenya, and SchoolNest as a company plans to expand its reach. But like many other businesses around the world, it faced some challenges as a result of the pandemic’s lockdowns. “The closure of schools due to the pandemic delayed the launch of the platform and disrupted the team’s plans. However, we took advantage of the situation and developed a solution for a virtual classroom,” he says. The start-up has had some impressive achievements so far, like scooping 3rd place during last year’s ‘Hanga Pitchfest’, a platform that showcases tech-entrepreneurs and creative talents from all over the country, and being accepted into the National Bank of Rwanda Regulatory Sandbox, among other significant accomplishments. “The prize money from the ‘Hanga Pitchfest’ competition and the opportunity to test our product with real users through the Sandbox programme will surely help SchoolNest continue to grow and succeed,” Karegeya says. The platform is developing an easy payment mode for school fees which aims to drive a cashless agenda in schools with its all-in-one payment solution. He added that the features of instant bank reconciliation, proper record tracking, and payment flexibility sound like they will be very useful for schools looking to streamline their financial processes. Karegeya says that SchoolNest has ambitious plans for the future with their innovative products and dedication to improve the education sector, adding that he has no doubt that the start-up will continue to achieve great things.