Perhaps the primary reason that most companies use e-learning is because of its cost effectiveness and homogeneity of discourse. Whether you have 10, 50 or a 1,000 people going through the course, you will end up with the same fixed cost. In fact, the greater the number of people going through the course, the cheaper it is per person; simple economics really. On the other hand, however, e-learning lacks the personal touch required to tweak the learning pedagogy depending on the individual learner.
“The problem we noticed was that the companies in Rwanda that provide training for employees, or for a service, etc., had a very low quality of delivery,” says Daniel Borch, Co-founder of Green Zebra Training. “They might have some very good material, but it wasn’t applicable to Rwandan culture and understanding,” he adds.
Daniel has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Business Economics. He came to Rwanda to work with a Danish NGO based in Kigali specializing in entrepreneurship, where he met Dennis Dybdal, the other Co-founder of Green Zebra Training. Dennis has more than 10 years of experience in developing and delivering training and development projects in the U.S., Scandinavia, India (Kashmir), China and Africa.
The NGO where both of them worked faced some issues. Meanwhile, Dennis was sharing his flat with an employee from Tigo and they got down to discussing some of the problems Tigo was facing with training its employees. Both of these factors convinced Dennis and Daniel that it’s time they started up, and they came up with Green Zebra roughly two-and-half-years ago.
“Rwanda, I think, is one of the easiest places to start a company in the world! You can do it in just one hour; all you need to do is register online, get the certificate, and you’re done,” he says. “Since we were foreigners it was much easier,” he jokes.
Green Zebra Training deals with customer service training, entrepreneurial training, project assignments and market research.The company has worked with companies like Tigo, MTN Telecommunications and Deloitte on projects involving induction for employees, customer service, and management training, etc. “MTN wanted to build a sort of a platform where the customers could learn about the products and services being offered, independently. So we created a step-by-step procedural video for them.We also worked with Deloitte in Denmark to make market specific e-learning modules for them,” Daniel explains.
“There are a few local providers who are cheaper than us and have local knowledge, but they do not offer the same quality as we do, and their level of building training components isn’t the same as ours. Then there are the international companies with NGOs and international consultancies in the similar space; however, their cost structure is very different,” he adds. To build on their own local know-how, the company has collaborated with NGOs and subject matter experts in Rwandan companies to improve the e-learning experience and accuracy. “We’ve put in a lot of effort to make sure our modules are localized, engaging and relevant,” Daniel tells us.
Daniel and Dennis have left the marketing of their service to word-of-mouth, and are directly targeting HR managers. “Rwanda is a very open environment; you could just meet a person and explain your product to them and they will listen. Spending much on advertising won’t have too much of an impact,” Daniel tells us.
‘Green Zebra’ has been given its name to be different from the other management consultancies in Rwanda. The significance of the name also lies in the reference to the zebra, which when born is expected to survive by itself within a few hours of its birth. “So when we have helped companies, they should be able to survive by themselves after that,” he adds.
The company started off with five fulltime employees and a few freelancers. They soon noticed extended lean periods, and delays in payments from their clients. “We had to trim down. We now have just three employees, including Dennis and me. The rest are freelancers,” he tells us. Daniel typically works on the administrative bit and business development of the company. Dennis primarily works on creating the training module and conducting the training sessions.
“We’ve received some great feedback from the companies we’ve worked with. They’ve often told us how much they liked the training and how helpful it has been in increasing sales and customer satisfaction. Even the bigger companies like Deloitte were happy with the work we did,” beams Daniel.
Green Zebra is now hoping to take it further. They are working with multiple NGOs to provide business training for smaller companies in rural areas. They are also looking to build generic training programs that can later be tweaked to the requirements of the companies. Their work experience in Denmark has also opened up avenues for getting companies from the West to outsource their work to them.