Lemuel Kinyanzwii’s passion for teaching children coding and robotics started when he was a music teacher.
Kinyanzwii ran a music company called Dolphins Music, which taught pupils music in low-income schools in Nairobi’s Eastlands.
However, his mission was to teach them how to make computer applications as well as code programmes.
So, in 2019, he sold the music firm to start Smart Brains Kenya, a start-up that teaches children how to code, make applications and robots.
He invested Sh1.6 million to start the company from the sale of the music firm.
“We are an online coding school for kids specifically kids in Kenya and all over Africa,
“We are driven by a belief that African kids also deserve a chance to learn how to code because that is the way that they can be competitive in Kenya and also in the whole world,” he says.
What is coding?
Coding is writing instructions in a language computers understand.
“So, there are things called editors. A programme editor is where you write instructions that the computer will understand,
“However, the editor has an engine inside which translates the language from what humans understand into bytes that are zeros and ones, which now computers understand,” Kinyanzwii, who is in his 30s, says.
The school offers curriculum for children between six and 17 years.
“For example, kids use android applications (every day). So, we teach them coding concepts using android applications. We give them a few concepts and then they are able to create applications and see how they work.
"They are taught through a website to learn how computers understand and interpret a website document and do own projects whereby they can make a website. One of the students made a website for marathoner Eliud Kipchoge.”
Mr Kinyanzwii says he is self-taught.
“I did computers in High School. However, I do remember vividly when I was in Form 3, I cried to my father that I wanted to learn how to code.
“I am a self-taught programmer. I have 12 years of experience of teaching. I know how to break it down to the child’s level.”
He says seven schools in Nairobi have registered for the programme.
“We have 1,200 students. Primarily, we work on behalf of schools. So, we approach schools and create coding plans which are run under the school.”
Individual students pay Sh12,000 a term while class charges go for Sh6,000.