The Business Year

Geoffrey Alphonso

UAE - Health & Education

Geoffrey Alphonso

CEO, Alef Education

Bio

Geoffrey Alphonso is the CEO of Alef Education. He has more than two decades of experience in enabling business transformations and strategic growth across global markets. He is widely regarded as a thought leader in the edtech field, given Alef Education’s use of advanced technologies like AI in revolutionizing digital education. Prior to joining Alef Education, Alphonso was the general manager at Pearson Education, running its program management and service delivery business for over eight years. He holds an MBA from the London Business School with a specialization in international business and finance.

“Currently, the Alef Platform collects over 50 million data points per day.“

Alef Education has enabled technology-based learning experiences globally. How has it evolved since its establishment in 2015?

The company has since grown from a UAE home-grown brand to a major global ed-tech player. The past year alone has seen the company register a 200% growth YoY compared to the previous fiscal year. We managed to achieve this growth by entering two new markets, namely Indonesia and Egypt, and this growth has also been attributed to an uptake in private school adoptions in the UAE. The global pandemic has been a true inflection point and positive catalyst for our digital education business, and in 2022 we expect to see both regional and international growth. In terms of product evolution, we now have a broader product portfolio with two new products: Abjadiyat, which caters to K-4 Arabic native instruction; and Arabits, which is age agnostic and caters to teaching Arabic to non-native learners. We will also soon launch our first fully virtual/online school. These product innovations have expanded our offerings to target new customer segments and have been key drivers for growth since our inception.

Your platform provides an advanced school monitoring and feedback systems. How do you use new technologies such as AI to have an immediate intervention and support?

Powered by AI and big data, the whole process runs entirely on auto pilot, with the system providing millions of data points that allow us to track the progress of each student, with school leaders and guardians able to access this information so that they can make the appropriate intervention on how to best help the students in their learning journeys. Our core value proposition is to leverage data to deliver meaningful insights to all actors in the education ecosystem. Currently, the Alef Platform collects over 50 million data points per day that are being analyzed by our data science team and fed to key authorities so that hu-man intervention can be applied to help infer certain things to help support broad-er education reforms.

What trends have you seen in the educative system over the past year?

In terms of market trends, we have seen an emergence in edtech start-ups with a focus on tutoring largely due to the fact that the global experiment brought forward, where at one point over 1.5 billion students were displaced from in-school learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting parents and students to look for additional—or alternative—support to mitigate the “learning loss“ caused by the massive school closures on a global scale. In addition, another trend that has been on the rise is the online and virtual school market. These, in the MENA region especially, will help create opportunities for learning to continue should other unforeseen school closures occur in the near future, and these types of teaching and learning models will also provide accessible and safe education from a distance.

What are your expansion plans? What is the desired outlook for Alef education in the long term?

Building on our YoY growth, Alef Education touched close to 1 million students by the end of 2021, which demonstrates our ability to turn a concept into reality and make an impact globally. Our growth plans will focus on key countries and territories that we consider top priorities, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Southeast Asia, as they represent some of the fastest-growing education markets in the world. We also hope to consolidate our gains in the US and add more schools to our portfolio. Beyond the numbers, however, what drives us as an organization is our endeavor to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers all over the world. Our platform is truly transforming the education ecosystem in more ways than we originally intended. It has been a humbling experience that inspires us to learn and continue to innovate our products and services.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

You may also be interested in...

Pierre Santoni, MEA President, Parsons

UAE - Economy

Pierre Santoni

Interview

MEA President, Parsons

Christer Viktorsson

UAE - Energy & Mining

Christer Viktorsson

Interview

Director General, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR)

Almudena Maillo

UAE - Tourism

Almudena Maillo

Interview

Councilor for Tourism and Moratalaz, Madrid City Council

View All interviews