New Beginnings

Toni Maraviglia Eneza Media

Moses Mutuku & Toni Maraviglia

Dear Loyal Enezans,

I’ve had an amazing run with Eneza as our CEO. We started as three people – Kago, Chris, and me – three people who barely knew each other. We have now grown our team to over 25 full-time staff with over 65 contracted personnel across 3 countries in Africa. We’re at a great place. And I’m confident that passing the torch on to our new CEO is going to be a super positive and important step for us on our mission to make 50 Million students across Africa smarter.

2012-09-17 13.58.40Back in 2011 we were called M-Prep. We were just an idea for kids to study on low-cost mobile phones and for teachers to get good data about their students. Yes, we were focusing on an important and difficult to reach demographic – rural Africa. I was so passionate about the idea that I dropped out of business school at Haas and moved back to Kenya full-time to get started.

I cannot tell you how proud of how far our company has come in the past 5 years. We’ve raised over $1.3M in capital in a difficult vertical (education) and a difficult market (Africa). We’ve garnered a host of supporters from around the continent: Safaricom, Unilever, Equity Group Foundation, NGOs like LitWorld and Xavier Project, teacher organizations like the Kenyan Primary School Head teachers Association (KEPSHA), international companies like Shule Direct and Wings for Life Ghana. We’ve been awarded prestigious fellowships such as Echoing Green, Unreasonable Institute, Girl Effect Accelerator, Bluhm Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) and won numerous awards such as the PennGSE Education Business Plan competition and Pivot East’s Mobile Society category. We’ve gotten international press in Fast Company, TechCrunch and BBC while getting overwhelmed by national press in Daily Nation, KTN, and the Standard.

We’ve executed relentlessly, reaching nearly a million unique users in 3 countries with an offline product and very little marketing. We’ve grown our revenues over 800% since 2013, (thanks in big part to the amazing leadership of our Chief BD, Millicent Mwendwa).

What I’m most proud of, however, is that we’ve built an all-local team (except for me) in a startup ecosystem where foreigners are usually the people in charge.

So what’s happening with me? Well, I’ll still be on Eneza’s board and helping with business development in whatever capacity I can. What this means is that I’m still around for you; I’ll be helping to set the vision of the company, coaching the new CEO as he grows into his role, and being a voice of the company, especially as I transition back to living in the U.S. full-time. After living in Kenya for over 6 of the past 8 years, I have decided that it’s time for me to settle back in the States and to allow other leaders in our company to shine. Eneza is a huge part of my identity, and I intend to stay involved with the company for as long as it exists. Our board has been more than supportive of my transition, as we’ve been strategizing our best way forward as a company for quite some time. I recognized over a year ago that our company is simply ready for the next phase of growth and for a leader who can take us there.

I have no doubt that that leader is my incredibly fearless, humble, and visionary co-founder, Kago Kagichiri.

It’s been a long process, and Kago will be taking over as CEO formally today!  Kago Kagichiri & Toni MaravigliaThere is no one I would trust more with taking the reins and leading the company than him. For those of you who don’t know him as well as I do or the team does, I’d like to give a brief introduction and list the reasons why I’m so happy for him to take over:

  1.     Kago is the most intelligent entrepreneur I’ve ever met. He sees answers to problems I don’t see. He was the magic behind the first Eneza MVP and behind most of our pivots and iterations. Kago started his first business at 19 and has started several other successful businesses since then. He knows how to grow revenues and build things. He’s an expert on mobile development and has been doing it for a very long time. He has helped our company navigate ways to make money and grow our reach. He keeps things simple and yet thinks deeply about every consequence of the decisions we make as a team. Eneza would have never existed without him. I’ve known that from the beginning.
  2. He knows the internal workings of technology and sees ways of using technology before the market’s even ready. Kago knows how to anticipate what users want. He also understands technological infrastructure and how to manage a tech team way better than I can. He’s taught our new CTO (who used to be our VP Engineering) Moses how he thinks about growing our technology and scaling our infrastructure.
  3. He knows how to execute. This guy does not talk a big game. Kago executes and does the work needed to grow a business. He does not shy away from the hard work of building a great product or even creating a great team culture. He asks tough questions, pushes people to think beyond their comfort zones, and doesn’t put up with mediocrity. He knows how to focus on getting real results and consistently pushes himself and our team to reach real outcomes – no vanity metrics allowed.
  4. He’s humble and probably the most honest guy I’ve ever met. I still don’t think he will admit to himself that he was a Forbes 30 under 30 or that he deserves any accolades. But Kago deserves every recognition he’s ever gotten. He also knows his weaknesses and strengths more than nearly anyone I’ve ever met. Our team consistently goes to him for support and guidance because he’s patient, kind and thoughtful.
  5. He loves Eneza and our mission passionately. I cannot stress this enough. When I started to transition out of my role and hand over my responsibilities, Kago stepped into his position as a leader with intensity. Get him talking about our students – Peninah, Imelda, Abdi, anyone – he won’t be able to stop. He loves the work he does and has loved it since he built our first MVP.

For the past 5 years Kago has been one of my best friends and biggest supporters. He’s helped me through tough times of getting mugged, losing friends, and dealing with stress. He’s helped me so much even as I transition out of this role. Our team is incredibly fortunate (and also ridiculously stoked) to have him as a leader. We have some big things in store for Eneza. I can’t wait for this next phase of growth. Stay tuned!

So much love to the Eneza Team and our supporters,

Toni

Toni Maraviglia