When Njeri Wangari’s daughter turned three years old, she realised she was losing interest in all the toys she had bought her. She also realised that most kids loved listening to nursery school rhymes but very few were available in audio-visual form in Kenya.
So, when a friend called her out of the blue asking where he could get videos for African kids songs for his two children, she knew this was her “go” signal and her idea, Safari Tales, the Nairobi start-up was born.
Safari Tales is an educational and entertainment app that enables kids to access African stories in digital format and enables them to learn African languages. Initially, it was available only on the Android platform. This was mainly because Android phones are the most popular in Africa.
Safari Tales also noticed that many parents, especially mothers did not mind sharing their mobile phones with their children, who in turn learn how to use smart phones faster than their parents. On top of that was the obvious fact that there was no app that had African inspired games or story books.
The app quickly proved popular with several parents downloading it after hearing about it through word of mouth.
“Most kids would use the given smartphones to either play games or play with ‘Talking Tom,” Njeri tells Appsafrica.com.
Safari Tales emerged winners at the 2014 Africa Content Awards mTourism/culture category. They were also shortlisted among 202 others in the World Summit Award for Mobile Content. Back home, they were among the finalists in the 2014 Pivot East Competition.
Safari Tales will be launching a new version of their app this month. They split the main version of the app into mini-apps. So, instead of one app with several components to of the story, they will have the different components in the mini-apps. For instance, Safari Tales Stories, Safari Tales Rhymes among others. The app will also now be available Android, iOS or Windows, but at a fee having initially been free.
When it relaunches, it will also introduce motions to accompany the illustrations. Currently, it is made of audio and book pages that flip as you read along. It also has an option where you read the book in its traditional form but on the platform.
The Nairobi based start-up has hundreds of users and their expansion and introduction of the interactive features promises to capture more young readers and expand into other African countries in future.