Nkosana Masuku, aged 28, is a name I first came across in 2019. This was in connection with the Youth Connekt Zimbabwe Startup Tour Bus. Nkosana Masuku was one of the 10 Bulawayo finalists where he showcased his use of virtual reality (VR) to teach tourism in class. He ultimately emerged as the first runner-up. Nkosana Masuku, a Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnus, founded Phenomenon Technologies, a Zimbabwean STEM and robotics startup. It cheaply allows learners to travel and explore various career paths and applied learning experiences. This article is meant to inspire any Zimbabwean entrepreneur that nothing is impossible.

Virtual Tour Of Bulawayo Gallery

In 2020, he made the virtual tour of Bulawayo Gallery possible; check out the article here.

Phenomenon Technologies (Zimbabwe) Partners With MEL Science (UK) To Provide Applied Science Learning Solutions In Africa

In 2020, Phenomenon Technologies partnered with global science kits giant MEL Science in a strategic move meant to enable applied science learning in Zimbabwe and Africa by providing hands-on experiment kits. MEL Science is a UK-based organisation that specialises in subscription-based chemistry experiment kits. Kindly check out the article on them for more.

Phenomenon Technologies Championing The Use Of Virtual Reality In Local Education

In 2022, we published an article where I laid out some of the remarkable initiatives and innovations Phenomenon Technologies have put up in just a couple of years. One interesting thing about Phenomenon Technologies was that they were the first Zimbabwean startup to enrol in the Google Launchpad Accelerator Class 4. This is an intensive 3-month program that is designed around 3 ‘high-touch points’ or boot camps.

The Birth Of Sciency MakerLab In Bulawayo

Phenomenon Technologies founded Sciency. Sciency Learning is an educational platform offered by Phenomenon Technologies, which incorporates augmented reality (AR) and gamification in the science learning process for students. Through AR, they can bring a portable lab with applied 3D models for learners to comprehend abstract phenomena. The partnership between Phenomenon and MEL Science will allow learners to experience fully immersive science learning. On the 4th of November 2022, Sciency announced the official unveiling of its first Sciency MakerLab in Bulawayo.

We have established maker labs which allow students to come in and learn innovative courses like robotics, which propel them to be problem-solvers in the future. My hope for the kids I am teaching is that they become the next generation of people who are young innovators and can develop solutions to our problems in the community.

– Nkosana Masuku

Sciency Already Churning Exceptional Learners

For instance, recently, one of their Sciency Stem Club students, Joanette Ngwenya, went to the US to present her Sign Language Interpreter Project. This was at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). She went on to win a Project Excellence special award in the Robotics and Intelligent Machines category. This is one of the many noteworthy mentions.

Overview Of Nkosana Masuku’s Story

Nkosana Masuku studied as a Physics and Chemistry teacher at Hillside Teachers’ College. For 3 years, he was a science teacher at Lubhango Secondary School in the rural Matobo district of Matabeleland South. During these years, it struck him how scarce STEM teaching resources were. It is worth noting that this is a rampant scenario prevalent in most of Africa. He ultimately quit his teaching job due to how frustrating teaching was without adequate resources. This is actually what inspired him to start Sciency. Their long-term goal is to reach more than 1 million learners. To date, they have reached over 65 000 learners.

Sciency started because when I was teaching in rural areas, I realized it was difficult for learners to comprehend practical science subjects. This was due to a lack of study aid materials. The advantage of teaching them practicals in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is that it enables learners to retain their knowledge, thereby reducing the dropout rates.

– Nkosana Masuku

Some Of Nkosana Masuku’s Accolades:

2018 African Union Top 10 Education Innovations

UNWTO Top 5 Tourism Tech Startups

Creative Business Cup Zimbabwe

Youth Connekt Zimbabwe Startup Tour Bus First Runner-Up (2019)

2023 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award

2023 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award

This initiative was launched in 2018 as a partnership between Cisco and Global Citizen. This global leadership award recognises young people taking huge strides in alleviating extreme poverty in their communities. These are specifically young people aged between 18 and 30 years of age.

The judging panel considered five key areas in their scoring: Impact, Vision, Catalyst, Global Citizenship, and Technology Innovation. Nkosana Masuku emerged as the 2023 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award winner. He got a US$250 000 grant plus a 1-year Global Citizen support program for that. He was officially conferred with the honour at the recently held Global Citizen NOW summit in New York. The summit was held from 27 to 28 April 2023.

Interested In Sciency?

If you want to sign up your kids at Sciency MakerLab, you can WhatsApp on +263715688886. They are located at 402 Sterling House, Jason Moyo between Leopold Takawira and 8th Avenue, in Bulawayo. Their classes are as follows:

Introduction To Robotics (New Infants Class – Aged 6-8)

Laptops and robots are provided. There are 4 1-hour sessions monthly on weekends. This costs US$25 per month per student.

Introduction To Robotics (Primary Class – Aged 9+)

Laptops and robots are provided. There are 4 2-hour sessions monthly on weekends. This costs US$25 per month per student.

Introduction To Robotics (Secondary Class – Aged 13+)

Laptops and robots are provided. There are 4 2-hour sessions monthly on weekends. This costs US$25 per month per student.

Intermediary Robotics (This is more challenging!)

This is for students with the Introductory Robotics certificate. Laptops and robots are provided. There are 4 2-hour sessions monthly on weekends. This costs US$25 per month per student.

Congratulations, Mr Masuku and team! The future looks exciting, given what Nkosana Masuku and Phenomenon Technologies have accomplished. I want his story to serve as inspiration that Zimbabwe has endless possibilities. It does not matter where you are and what you have, start from where you are, and opportunities will start lining up for you. You can kindly click here to get involved in what Nkosana Masuku is doing.