Between 2017 and 2019, only 7% of all children books published in the UK contained characters from minority ethnic groups including those of African descent. Amidst this low percentage, the University of Manchester says 33.5% of the school population in the UK are from these minority groups.
This gap shows and obvious need to increase diversity in the nation's literature and the other media. After Oladele and Louisa Olafuyi could not find materials about African culture to teach their son, they decided to change the narrative by starting Kunda Kids, a series of African history books for children.
"When I was taught black history in school, it pretty much started and ended with slavery," says Louisa. "We want to do better and I am glad that my son will learn about these [African] characters [in a different light]".
Kunda Kids exists to transform children’s content and programming about Africa for the next generation. By showcasing various elements of African history and culture in creative, fun and simple formats for kids, parents and educators can raise children to be global citizens with an understanding and appreciation for other cultures from around the world.
The company has sold over 25,000 books to date, and the Kunda Kids app has been downloaded in over 130 countries.
To double down its efforts, the edtech and publishing company focused on African children in the diaspora has secured $700,000 pre-seed in a round led by Zrosk Investment Management with participation from Voltron Capital, Argentil Capital, HoaQ, Kaleo Ventures, together with angel investors Abi Ajayi, Chiamaka Ezenwa, Adetayo Bamiduro of MAX, and Benjamin Fernandes, CEO of Nala Money.
Per a statement shared with Bendada.com, the funds will enable the company to build out the Kunda Kids mobile app and continue working with creative talent from across the African diaspora.
"I am thrilled to announce the successful closing of our pre-seed round, and I couldn't be more grateful for the inspiring investors who share our vision. This milestone allows us to launch Kunda & Friends and invest in the exceptional creative talent across Africa. We are committed to bringing forth a new generation of African storytellers, and together, we will change the narrative," Oladele Olafuyi, co-creator of Kunda & Friends said in the statement.
Kunda & Friends is a music-led 3D animation for children set in an African landscape. Kunda, a four-year-old boy of mixed African heritage, takes viewers on his adventures exploring the world around him with his friends Sana, a girl of mixed African and Indian heritage, Fela, a boy from Nigeria, as well as Leo the lion and Ella the elephant.
The Kunda & Friends soundtrack music takes inspiration from African culture, with influences from genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano made popular by Grammy award-winning artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo and more recently, singers like Burna Boy and WizKid. The series’ storyline is anchored on friendship and imparts prosocial life lessons, providing parents and educators with an opportunity to teach and play with their children as they watch together.
According to Louisa, "our children deserve to learn more about Africa's rich and diverse heritage, and it is our ambition to provide quality stories in various formats to children around the world. It is essential for children to see themselves and others represented in world-class stories and content. By nurturing a sense of pride and belonging, we empower them to grow up as confident, culturally-aware individuals who will shape the future."
A core pillar of Kunda Kids’ mission is to create more opportunities for African talent in publishing and production. The company is committed to working with animators, artists, writers, producers and business leaders from diverse backgrounds.
Raymond Malinga, Director of Kunda & Friends, co-founder of Creatures Animation Studio and former Disney Producer, said that, "Kunda & Friends is an opportunity to impact not only the younger generation of kids from all over the world but to impact the lives of artists longing to work on larger scale productions."
The first four episodes of Kunda & Friends will be available on Monday, May 29th, with subsequent episodes to be released in the weeks following.