Two years ago, Etornam Fianoo-Vidza set out to learn Swahili but found online materials ineffective. This experience motivated the French and Spanish teacher to start her interactive language learning platform, Spiika, to help provide more engaging resources.
Unlike other apps limited to offering just text and audio lessons, Spiika provides users with live tutoring, engaging video lessons, student community features, and interactive activities. This immersive approach helps African users better master languages practically.
Fianoo-Vidza has long been passionate about languages, already speaking five fluently – English, French, Spanish, Twi, and Swahili. She also plans to add German and Chinese to that list soon. Her experience teaching French in the U.S. showed her first-hand that human interaction is vital for effective language learning. This inspired her to align her linguistic passion with business by starting a language school.
After returning to Ghana, Fianoo-Vidza began teaching French but quickly saw demand for African languages as well. She took her school online but found the repetitive audio-only lessons commonly offered ineffective. Spiika was born from her vision as both a linguistics expert and entrepreneur to create a platform that could help Africans learn both local and foreign languages more interactively.
Spiika’s interactive approach differs considerably from the rule-focused language teaching common in Ghana’s classrooms. Those mechanical methods often fail to impart lasting, practical language skills. Fianoo-Vidza notes that while basic vocabulary and expressions provide a foundation, real human interaction takes learning to a deeper, more usable level. Through live tutoring, student interactions, and engaging activities, Spiika facilitates actual conversational progress.
In discussing the challenges of running an ed-tech startup in Ghana, Fianoo-Vidza points to the need for grit and perseverance. As the founder, she’s had to learn on the job and stay adaptable constantly. Two key issues she faces are limited tech talent and difficulty securely receiving cross-border subscription payments from Spiika’s global user base. Local fintech options can also be limited in offering seamless payment solutions.
Since launching with French lessons, Spiika has seen strong market demand, especially from those needing to learn French for regional work and trade. Users are drawn to Spiika’s more interactive, conversational learning experience compared to traditional self-study programs. But Fianoo-Vidza feels Ghana’s edtech scene merits more attention, particularly from local investors who could help startups like Spiika thrive.
To support edtech growth, Fianoo-Vidza advocates increased startup funding focused specifically on education technology rather than just generalised advice and non-monetary assistance. She also sees room for more collaboration between fintech and edtech to ease digital payment friction. Additionally, transparently available data on Ghana’s startup ecosystem could help local founders better pitch ideas and strategically scale their young companies.
In summary, Spiika embodies the power of aligning an entrepreneur’s passion with tailored technology to create an engaging, accessible educational platform. Fianoo-Vidza’s hands-on experience informed a learning solution directly answering African users’ needs and preferences. With continued user traction and increased ecosystem support, her edtech startup aims to facilitate transformative language acquisition across the continent.