Hakim Mahere is the co-founder of We Play Edutainment group, an organisation he co-founded in 2018 with Ricardo Ncube. The firm specializes in teaching STEM education through edutainment methods to young learners in Zimbabwe. They use a combination of various teaching tools such as music, play, fun, storytelling and relevant educational gadgets and toys. Currently based in Gweru, Zimbabwe We Play has empowered more than 3000 young learners across the midland’s province. Their programs provide lessons in robotics, space science, technology, engineering, virtual reality, science experimentation and more. They aim to empower young learners through technology and science, bridging the knowledge gap between Africa and the rest of the world. The organisation is on a mission to innovate the African traditional education systems, whilst their vision is to see Africa’s development thrust being developed through STEM related solutions.
What inspired you to pursue this of work/business and how much work did it take for you to get where you are now? – It was in the year 2015 when i was working in South Africa when a friend of mine working for a renowned farmer who owned multiple farms and small aircrafts, invited us for a tour at the farm where he worked. As he took us for a tour, when we entered one of the aircrafts what I saw that day changed my line of thought forever. Inside the aircraft hangar I saw some of the most advanced and unique educational gadgets and toys lying around, and I thought to myself these could teach some valuable stem related lessons. When I enquired to whom they belonged, my friend indicated that they belonged to the farmer’s children. Apparently, they often played and learnt using these gadgets and toys; talk about fun but practical education. Right then and there it clicked in my mind that this was a gap present in our education system. These young children were getting exposure to technological gadgets that challenged their way of thinking and probably positioned them far ahead of their peers in terms of mindset development. Whereas for many young people in most Africa set ups education is more on the theoretical than it is practical, more so for STEM related subjects. So, the next day I started researching on how I could fill in this gap and that marked the beginnings of We Play edutainment.
Every journey has its share of challenges; what were yours? and did you ever feel like giving up? – Funding was a big challenge for me at the start, getting people to invest in my idea. However, I managed to use my savings that I had to purchase the first few gadgets to kickstart the project and grew from there. Additionally, at the start of the project, schools (which were our target market) did not think the idea was viable and lacked understanding of what the concept was trying to achieve. As a result, we had to educate them about our mission and how their students would benefit from the various programmes we had to offer. Lastly, access to government schools was also a challenge however, we eventually managed to get a breakthrough into that market by engaging the Ministry of Youth and the National Arts Council.
Any notable milestones or achievements you would like to share? – To date we have managed to empower more than 3000 learners since we started. We also partnered with the British Council of South Africa through their education department; the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe; and also, an American stem education partner called Steamsational. Since our launch we also released two STEM related books.
What is the big picture i.e., where to from here? – Our goal is to impact the whole of Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa. We want to expand our programs across Africa and help shape the future of the education sector and systems.
A word of advice to others reading your story – Never give up, have a purpose in life, be purpose driven!
One/two interesting facts about you – I’m a serious and established art collector. I’m also tech geek and expert. I first accessed a computer at age of eight, back in the 90’s when it was still a new thing in Africa and from that day my imagination for technology was sparked.