Three Women Co-Founded Tanzania’s First Homegrown Cartoon Series

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Nisha Ligon, Doreen Kessy and Stacey Wong are the women co-founders behind Ubongo, Tanzania’s first homegrown cartoon series, designed to help children to discover the joys of mathematics through fun, local stories and songs.

The cartoon has enjoyed success since its pilot episode in 2016, and now boasts more than 1.4 million viewers in Tanzania alone, with other African countries also receiving the animated show’s television broadcast, according to Weetracker.

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Co-founder Kessy was motivated to launch the company due to her experience watching TV when she was a child. She never saw characters who looked like her, with the shows on television produced in Western countries, she told Forbes.

That was the catalyst for her, Ligon, Wong and others to get together and create Ubongo in Swahili.

After six months, Ubongo partnered with pan-African broadcaster Star Times to bring Ubongo Kids Kiswahili to viewers in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, Forbes reports.

The show was then translated into English and is now broadcast on free-to-air channels in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, as well as 27 francophone countries on the continent via paid channel Canal Plus, according to Ventureburn.

cartoon series
A cartoon series created in Tanzania by women co-founders is being watched by children in Ghana. AP Photo – Olivier Asselin

African cartoon series chosen as edtech winner

In March 2019, the company was chosen as the overall winner of the Next Billion Edtech Prize in a pitch competition during the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, according to Fastbusiness.

The firm was one of three selected winners out of 30 startups, walking away with $25,000 in prize money.

Ubongo has decided to invest the prize money in making its educational content available to children in remote areas who do not have access to electricity, Ventureburn reports.