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Shaw Academy eyes growth in major market South Africa

Shaw Academy eyes growth in major market South Africa

Irish edtech company Shaw Academy aims to secure a global user base of 9 million, up from its current 5 million, and believes its newly opened office in Cape Town and investment in major market South Africa will help.

The business develops online courses focused on building skills and employs over 100 staff globally. It analyses global employment demands and educational trends and develops its own content in-house, hosted on its own propriety platform.

Shaw Academy says its courses are unique because users have the ability to ask questions and receive answers while attending webinars and also interact in real time with fellow classmates.

The company opened its office in Cape Town this week.

John White, chief strategy officer at Shaw Academy, said over five years the business has reached just short of 1 million users to date in South Africa and the Cape operation, alongside current expansion, will help it achieve its international target.

According to a statement from the company, its Cape Town operation will initially employ over 40 staff and focus on developing educational content along with student support to "hundreds of thousands of users" across multiple global markets.

White explains: "We have hired- and are hiring for two types of roles in Cape Town. The first are educators. Shaw Academy content is developed and delivered 100% in-house so, for example, we have marketing, nutrition, web development and financial trading educators employed by Shaw Academy in Cape Town. Each educator will work within a faculty and upon completing the course, will continually update the material so the content stays fresh and current. An educator typically is educated to degree level and has 2-3 years post qualification experience within that role or industry."

He continues: "As our courses refer to the practicalities of a subject (i.e. marketing) the educator must be able to relate to users about how they can set up their own blog for example or start selling online... the second type of role are student support advisors. Shaw Academy is acquiring hundreds of thousands of new users every month globally so our student advisors will be on hand to offer guidance to students on options available to them and also offer support as users go through the course cycle."

The company has a presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, is active in emerging markets and 90% of its user acquisition is via mobile phone.

Asked if Africa's ongoing challenge with internet penetration and access is an issue, White said that while it does deliver online education, it delivers webinars, and is not streaming huge amounts of data.

"... in July of this year we signed a partnership with Airtel in India to offer their customers educational content which so far has generated over 400,000 new users to Shaw Academy so internet penetration, while required, is not a worry for us going forward judging by the impact we have already seen in developing markets."

Speaking at the official announcement regarding the Cape office opening, the company's chief executive officer James Egan said, "Strategically and operationally South Africa was a simple decision for us to make. Our global footprint ensures that student support can be favourably operated in this market and this is reflective by the high performing teams we already have in place. Our decision was further enhanced by the calibre of educational professionals we met and now employ and our plan is to continue to add to both divisions as we move forward."

"This is an exciting phase in our growth and we are very excited that our South African operation will be at the forefront of Shaw Academy's continued expansion and success to offer high quality education at low cost."

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