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The SME Story: Lenka Basweidan, founder of Arabee Learning

The SME Story: Lenka Basweidan, founder of Arabee Learning

Arabee takes the children on a continuous journey, using language patterns and vocabulary repetition the same way they learn their mother tongue.

Lenka Basweidan Founder of Arabee Learning

How did the idea for arabee come about?
My children were not learning Arabic despite spending four hours per week [studying it] and they were not enjoying the language. To encourage them, I decided to learn Arabic as well. After talking to people, I realised that I was not alone – so many other parents and families were also suffering. I discussed the situation with my husband, and we came up with a plan and decided to fix the problem and make teaching and learning Arabic simple and fun.

How is arabee different from other language learning apps?
We tried other apps, but they teach topics separately such as letters, colours, numbers, etc. Children couldn’t connect and apply the language. Some apps didn’t even teach all the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Arabee takes the children on a continuous journey, using language patterns and vocabulary repetition the same way they learn their mother tongue. It has simplified the language, breaking it down into small easily understood chunks.

What is the size and scale of the online language learning market within the UAE?
We have seen a huge increase in digital learning throughout the last few years, which was accelerated this year due to the pandemic. The UAE has a large expat population including Arabs and Muslims from all over the world who want their children to continue learning Arabic when they return to their home country. We developed the Family App to support them and the larger global community of Arabs and Muslims who want their children to speak Arabic.

We have established and built our brand in the UAE, and are expanding to the GCC, Malaysia and the UK. We are now part of the Hub71 incentive programme, which will help us to access markets, quickly and effectively, both locally and internationally.

What were some of the challenges you came up against early on?
Beginning something new is always scary. We had a very steep learning curve. We faced the same issue as the majority of entrepreneurs in the region – money. Building a company, creating original high-quality international standard content is expensive and we have taken great care to ensure that the programme works, and we achieve our vision.

Did Covid-19 accelerate the development of arabee?
We started the app development prior to Covid-19 and arabee was launched as an online learning platform for schools in 2018. However, we can definitely see an increase in interest, as more and more families are getting online.

Covid-19 has changed our sales cycle for schools. We are being approached by teachers and principals instead of us calling them. They want a programme with comprehensive resources that can deliver a UAE Ministry of Education aligned Arabic language curriculum online within the restrictions currently in place.

Will arabee expand to include more than just language learning and include other subjects as well?
We might, as we have invested and built a high-specification platform, and a strong framework for both schools and families that can accommodate other programmes be it languages or other subjects. We know the different education systems, so we can incorporate new programmes or subjects relatively easily and quickly. Right now we are focused on building arabee and impacting the lives of over half a million primary students here in the UAE and beyond with the Family App.

What will be your measure of success for arabee?
As part of the accelerators, we were chosen by Sheraa, C3 (powered by HSBC), and StartAd supported by the Khalifa Fund. We have defined important success factors for arabee and these are not only financial, but also social impact KPIs.

Within two years we want to double our numbers to 20,000 students within the UAE. For the Family App, we would love to see 10,000 downloads in the next year. However, our biggest measure of success would be for all children within the UAE to enjoy learning and speaking Arabic.

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