iMlango Microloans: Providing Hope to Women in Kiambani

Tumaini Women group is a group of parents from Kiambani Primary School. Tumaini means hope in Kiswahili, and the name was chosen to inspire other groups and their children; the group was formed in January 2018.

Group members are involved in various small businesses in Makindu town: salons and cosmetic shops, honey-selling, grocery stalls. 

In an effort to improve financial literacy and to economically empower members, iMlango field officers introduced table-banking, also locally known as Zangule, to the group. In this arrangement, each member is asked to make a weekly contribution during the group meeting.

  Tumaini Women group at formation stage

Tumaini Women group at formation stage

This collection is borrowed by members at an interest of 10%, and is repayable in the next group meeting. Weekly meetings result in more frequent collections, with more money in circulation and available to recipients.

From January to the end of May, the group has accumulated Ksh150,000 in their Zangule. They can now lend each other up to Ksh30,000, stemming from prudent and responsible financial management as guided by the loan officer. Members borrow to pay school fees, transport to school, pocket money for their children, business support, and emergency needs. 

In support of iMlango’s microloans initiative, the group officials have ensured that only borrowers who are active in their Zangule, and have consistently saved, are approved. They also warn members that in the event of a default, they would recoup their Zangule contributions to repay the loan amount due. This has helped to instil a high level of local financial ownership of the collective management of loan repayments.

  The iMlango team with group members, June 2018

The iMlango team with group members, June 2018

The group intends to open a bank account to save whatever remains in every sitting that isn’t borrowed by members. At the end of the year, they would pay out each member her interest earned for the entire period. Pay-out would be done in the first week of January 2019 so as to coincide with school opening, which will help support on school-related costs for the beginning on a new academic year.

Tumaini is one such example of a group driving their own financial development; as we are not prescriptive in our approach to developing financial capacity, only providing assistance where appropriate, and allowing for differing contexts at the local level.

Future-Proofing Technology for Education in International Development: Mobiles for Education Alliance releases report on its 7th annual Symposium

The seventh annual Mobiles for Education (mEducation) Alliance Symposium, held October 5-6, 2017, brought together practitioners, thought leaders, policy makers, and funders to advance the use of and evidence for information and communications technology in global education (ICT4E).

Each year, the Steering Committee of the Alliance designs the Symposium to promote a shared understanding of the opportunities and challenges of implementing ICT4E solutions particularly in lower-resource, developing country contexts. 

The event is designed to promote networking and partnership development among participants, who come from government, nonprofit, and private-sector organizations.

The guiding theme of this Symposium, “Future-Proofing Technology for Education in International Development” demonstrated the power of this gathering to discuss pathways to spread and scale promising The future-proofing theme was embedded into a novel Symposium application process: Prospective presenters were asked to submit proposals for presentations in which they would time-travel three years into the future. The presenters would retrace the future-proofing steps taken by The future-proofing theme helped presenters and participants envision pathways to implementing evidence-driven innovations at scale. The longer term vision is that this focus on sustainable, durable project designs would lead public sector policy makers to adopt and support such innovations in their countries.

We were delighted to be invited to present at the Symposium to share our work in improving educational outcomes in Kenya, and our involvement was featured in the report:

"Project iMlango is a comprehensive educational technology program delivered by a ground-breaking partnership of public and private sector organizations, which aims to improve Kenyan pupils’ learning outcomes, enrollment and retention. Avanti and sQuid, two of the project partners, highlighted their work in improving educational outcomes for over 68,000 girls in highly marginalized rural regions of Kenya. While iMlango serves a total of 150,000 male and female students, the project’s special focus on measuring and improving girls’ education outcomes derives from iMlango’s partnership with Ministry of Education in Kenya. Among the project’s key findings: Over 60 percent of the girls served became more interested in school because of the digital learning methods used. Among iMlango’s innovations is the platform’s mobile app for numeracy, which significantly accelerated students’ math progress. Other important project outcomes include improved student attendance overall and higher levels of teacher engagement."

For more information on the mEducation Alliance or their annual Symposium, please click here

iMlango Junior Debaters' Contest: Strengthening literacy skills through digital competitions

The iMlango Junior Debaters’ Contest (iMJDC) is an inter-school competition that is accessible to all 205 iMlango schools.

The contest is delivered in partnership with Arimus Media, which runs the highly renowned Great Debaters’ Contest in Kenya. Each student group that enters the contest comprises of five members; and there are three rounds to each competition, with groups writing responses to a debate motion – either for or against the issue - and submitting them digitally on the iMlango platform.


Moiben Primary School have performed especially well in the contest, with all five groups from the school proceeding to the second round and two making it to the final 10. One girl pupil, Jael, who was a member of a top 10 group, demonstrated impressive progress in English over the duration of the contest.

Involvement in the iMJDC also contributed to improved engagement with the e-learning platform for Jael. She spent 14 hours 55 minutes on the iMlango portal in Term 2. She largely attributes this increase, from less than an hour in Term 1, to her involvement in the debaters’ competition.

Coupled with more structured lab-sessions during lesson-time, Jael took the initiative and used supervised out-of-hour sessions to conduct her own research for the competition.

From before the contest started, Jael scored 54 in her English exam at the end of term (1). At the end of the year, Jael scored 64, representing a 19% improvement in her score. According to Jael and her English teacher, Mr. S, the debaters’ contest combined with her initiative in using the e-learning platform’s content were the main reasons behind her increased English score. In particular, Jael’s written composition skills dramatically improved - which is an essential skill for developing core literacy competency.

Jael stated that “the competition made us work as a team. We had to agree on what we wrote, and then make our argument strong enough to get to the next round. We had to do our own research to make sure we had enough information for our answer, and then spent time carefully writing the response into the iMlango portal.”

In addition to improved English scores, the debaters’ contest has opened up a platform where girls and boys can interact academically outside of the classroom, which has enhanced equality and teamwork, and contributed to an improved work ethic amongst the pupils.