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Tech startup, BRCK, secures Sh300M funding from international investors

BRCK tablets

Primary school children interacting with BRCK tablets. Credit: BRCK

A Kenyan start-up has raised USD 3 million (Sh300M) to scale its operations in Africa and the rest of the world. This additional capital injection, coming after an initial seed investment of USD 1.2M, has come from former AOL executives Jean and Steve Case, Jim Sorenson, TED, MKS Alternative Investments, UK-based Synergy Energy and others.

BRCK CEO Erik Hersman said the company will use the additional funds to scale up production and distribution for BRCK Education products and services. The tech company will also hire more staff which has expanded from an initial team of 9 at the start of 2015 to 40.

“As a fairly young company based in Kenya, it’s incredible to have such a range of powerhouse investors backing us with their support. The investor interest we have received throughout the year has marked how far we’ve come from our Kickstarter and seed funding days. This new capital will catapult our efforts of improving the way information flows in the world,” said Hersman.

BRCK’s mission is to solve problems of electricity and internet connections in low-infrastructure environments through a rugged, handy device. Physically tough in design with smart technology and enough backup power to survive a blackout for 8-hours, the BRCK can provide failsafe internet connectivity in almost any situation.

Since the initial funding, BRCK has evolved to sell the product in 54 countries across 5 continents and has also begun to revolutionise the Kenyan primary education system through the launch of BRCK Education with its flagship products, the Kio tablet and the Kio Kit – a digital classroom in a box.

Consequently, a consortium that includes BRCK has been shortlisted by the Government of Kenya in the Digital Laptop Project to supply hardware and content to primary school-going children in public institutions.

“As early investors in BRCK, we’ve had the benefit of observing first-hand the success the company has had in managing rapid yet sustainable growth as it fulfils its mission to keep Africans connected and drive the global digital revolution,” stated Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation.

“We are excited to support BRCK as it enters its next phase of expansion, both improving and enhancing its product offerings uniquely suited to emerging market internet subscribers, and growing the company’s global footprint.”

The breadth of investor appeal was also highlighted at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi last year, when BRCK was one of the few companies that successfully secured funding at the event.

World-renowned entrepreneur, business leader and societal innovator, Jim Sorenson said BRCK’s solution has no borders, adding that was excited to be part of helping internet connectivity.

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Laurent Haig, partner at MKS Alternative Investments, said connecting 4 billion people that are not yet on the internet is a top priority. BRCK is taking on this challenge from a unique perspective, fuelled by

“BRCK is taking on this challenge from a unique perspective, fuelled by deep knowledge of the realities of emerging countries’ infrastructure and users. We are proud to join this adventure, and work alongside the BRCK team to bring the benefits of information technologies to millions of people,” said Haig.

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